Rio Tinto has signed two exploration joint venture agreements with CODELCO’s 100% owned subsidiary, CCM Los Andes, in Chile. These agreements follow the first exploration joint venture agreement signed between Rio Tinto and CODELCO in January 2008. CODELCO is the world’s largest copper producer.
The new properties to be explored are the Esteli and Paloma prospects in northern Chile. The Esteli property adjoins the Exploradora property, which was subject to the first joint venture agreement between Rio Tinto and CODELCO, while the Paloma property is located close to the copper mines at Spence and El Tesoro. An exploration drilling programme is currently underway at Exploradora and will be followed by drilling at Paloma this year.
Rio Tinto has the option to earn a 55 per cent interest in each prospect through stand alone exploration investments of US$20 million. The agreements include provisions to increase Rio Tinto’s ownership to 60 per cent.
“We are very pleased to enter into these additional agreements which strengthen Rio Tinto’s relationship with CODELCO and provide access to some of the most prospective copper tenement in the world,” said Bret Clayton, chief executive of Rio Tinto Copper.
Rio Tinto has been exploring in Chile since 1989 and has several additional copper exploration properties under title which are scheduled for drill-testing in 2008.
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.