Rio Tinto walks away from copper project

Two charities have picked up Rio Tinto’s minority stake in Northern Dynasty, the company vying to develop one of the world’s biggest copper deposits.

The Alaskan Pebble copper and gold project is now 100 per cent owned by Northern Dynasty after Rio gifted its 19.1 per cent share to the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation.

Rio said a strategic review last year concluded the Pebble project did not fit within the company’s strategy.

“By giving our shares to two respected Alaskan charities, we are ensuring that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble’s future development and that any economic benefit supports Alaska’s ability to attract investment that creates jobs,” Rio Tinto Copper chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said.

“Rio Tinto has long and historic ties to Alaska and we continue to see Alaska as an attractive location for potential future investment.”

Last year Anglo American pulled out of the Pebble project after handing its 50 per cent stake to Northern Dynasty, Wall Street Journal Reported.

The project has faced criticism from environmentalists who say it has the potential to harm salmon fisheries.

The current resource estimate of the project is 55 billion lb copper, 67 million oz gold and 3.3 billion lb molybdenum.

The company says the project could support 15,000 jobs and contribute more than $2.5 billion annually to US GDP over decades of production.


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