Rio Tinto has achieved a permitting milestone at the Resolution copper project in the United States with the release of an independently prepared draft environmental impact statement.
Conducted by the US States Forest Service over a six-year period, the review included broad public engagement.
Rio Tinto and project partner BHP expect to spend more than $2 billion by 2020 to develop and permit the Resolution copper project, including $302 million of additional expenditure approved earlier this year.
The US permitting process for Resolution started in 2013, with the US Forest Service conducting a review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Rio Tinto chief executive copper & diamonds Arnaud Soirat said the future development of the project would be shaped by years of engagement with the local community and extensive independent study by the US Forest Service.
“Achieving this significant milestone in the rigorous US permitting process allows us to continue progressing one of the world’s most significant untapped copper deposits towards development,” Soirat said.
“Resolution has the potential to supply up to 25 per cent of the United States’ copper demand and complements Rio Tinto’s other copper projects.
“Long-term copper fundamentals remain strong – with supply challenged and demand driven by the adoption of electric vehicles, the electrification of industry and a growing share of renewables in the energy mix.
“Rio Tinto will be well positioned to benefit from this demand outlook and to provide North American manufacturers with the materials that are essential to their products.”
The work being undertaken at the site includes reclamation of the historic Magma copper mine site, sinking a second shaft to mining depth, rehabilitating an existing shaft, extensive drilling and ore body testing, and the permitting and public engagement process.
Publication of the DEIS triggers a further public consultation process over a 90 day period, which will inform the final environmental impact statement (EIS), and the next steps in the permitting process for the project.
Rio Tinto owns 55 per cent of the project, with BHP holding the remaining 45 per cent.