Rio ups Ivanhoe stake to 49 per cent

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Rio Tinto has upped its share in Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines another half a percentage point to 49 per cent for $72.6 million.

The rise takes Rio’s stake to the limit allowed under a pact between the two companies.

The purchase came as Ivanhoe yesterday released a statement saying it expected the Mongolian government to support the Oyu Tolgoi development.

The project is slated to be one of the largest copper mines in the world.

The Mongolian government is pushing to accelerate its stake in Oyu Tolgoi to 50 per cent from its current 34 per cent.

It is also seeking talks with Ivanhoe and project operator Rio to consider changes to the 2009 investment agreement.

The 2009 agreement stipulates that the Mongolian government has an option to increase its stake in Oyu Tolgoi to 50 per cent once the initial 30-year term on the agreement expires.

Ivanhoe’s stock fell more than 14 per cent on the back of the accouchements in late New York trading this morning.

Ivanhoe says the Oyu Tolgoi deposit is on track for first production in 2012, with commercial production of copper, gold, and silver concentrate planned for the first half of 2012.

It is forecast to produce 450,000 tonnes of copper and 330,000 troy ounces of gold annually.

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