For major mining companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the future life is a combination of their exploration work and enterprise: to find things on their own, to be approached by other companies in deals , or make acquisitions.
Rio growth with Alcan bought last year and is now off fighting an attempt by BHP Billiton to do that to himself.
Rio says the bid does not evaluate it properly.
In its annual report 2007, Rio spoke confidently of the work done by the exploration of its teams, the company which has cost more than half a billion dollars, more than double spending in 2005 only.
The best development seems to have been, at its Bingham Canyon mine in the United States where one, perhaps two major finds have been made.
“At Bingham Canyon (USA) copper mine, a large deposit of molybdenum has been identified below the copper deposit.
The addition of this discovery, which is always bounded by deep drilling, is the recognition of the porphyry copper mineralization new under heaven wall.
“These two new zones of mineralization point to the discovery of new potential.”
Rio said two discoveries greenfield, Chapudi thermal coal deposit in South Africa and the Kintyre uranium deposit in Western Australia, were transferred from the unit exploration in the category of evaluation teams for the future work .
“Kintyre is currently offered for sale,” said Rio.
“One of brownfield Tier 1 (near an existing operation) discovery, the Caliwingina channel iron deposit in the North, was transferred to Pilbara Iron,” Rio also said ..
“The magnitude of studies undertaken at the project Bunder (diamonds, India) and started to Chilubane and Mutamba (ilmenite, Mozambique), and Jarandol Jadar (borates, Serbia) deposits.
“All are expected to be completed in early to mid-2008.
“Negotiations continued with the Government of Indonesia on the employment contract for the project nickel Sulawesi.
“Significant progress early RTX projects in Australia (zircon), Brazil (bauxite), Canada (potash), Colombia (bauxite) and the United States (nickel) should lead to the commencement of the order of magnitude further studies in the second half of 2008.
“Several other projects are showing the first signs of encouragement and could be accelerated in this stage.
“Exploration by the La Granja (Peru), the evaluation team encouragement returned with the discovery of four more bodies of the porphyry copper mineralization.
“The Bloc A Freeport in West Papua (Indonesia), the drilling encountered a new zone of skarn copper-gold mineralization at the gap between the target and Ertsberg Grasberg intrusions. Forage delimitation will run from the drifting exploration in 2008.
“On the concession Heruga Entrã©e Gold near Oyu Tolgoi (Mongolia), operator Ivanhoe Mines has announced the discovery of Heruga porphyry copper-gold deposit. Intersections included drilling 454 meters at 0.50 percent copper, 1.43 grams per ton gold and 0.02 per hundred molybdenum.
“Almost filing of the Eagle (US), drilling by the evaluation team has intersected high-grade sulphide nickel-copper mineralization with three satellites prospects. Delineation drilling is planned for 2008.
“Energy Resources of Australia, exploration and evaluation of program focused on drilling intercropping to support the extension of the mine previously announced, as well as the pre-feasibility study on a new mine expansion. In 2008, attention will return to the definition of Ranger 3 Deeps deposit, “Rio said in the report.
The company revealed that net cash expenditure on exploration in 2007 was $ US576 million, an increase of $ US231 million over 2006.
“This mainly reflects the large number of high quality projects in the exploration and evaluation of pipeline, net US $ 197 million in cash from the sale of the royalty Peã±asquito, shares in Anatolia Minerals, Southdown deposit iron ore and other interest groups during 2007. pre-tax charge of the underlying earnings of $ 321 million is net US $ 253 million of total revenue from the sale mentioned above. ”
Rio said that the net cash expenditure on exploration in 2006 was $ US345 million, up from $ US81 million compared to 2005.
This means that in the space of three years, Rio has more than doubled its exploration expenditures.
It is a reflection of the intensity of the development of resources and the need to continue to expand the search area in terms of geography and minerals.
AIR publishes a weekly magazine. Subscription is free to www.aireview.com.au