Rio Tinto to lift Ivanhoe stake to 30pct

[] — Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto on Wednesday said it would spend $393m acquiring more shares in Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines to progress a landmark copper-gold project in Mongolia.

Rio said it would exercise share warrants which would lift its stake in Ivanhoe shares by 7.3% to 29.6% to help keep the development of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, one of the world’s richest copper deposits, on schedule.

“Exercising the warrants early ensures Ivanhoe has sufficient funds to meet the current Oyu Tolgoi development schedule,” Rio Tinto’s chief executive for copper operations, Andrew Harding, said in a statement.

“Our further investment in Ivanhoe Mines underlines our confidence in the quality of the world class Oyu Tolgoi deposit and its priority in our project portfolio.”

Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe are development partners for the Oyu Tolgoi project which is expected to begin production in 2013.

The project, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Chinese border, is expected to produce 450,000 tonnes of copper and 330,000 ounces of gold annually over 35 years.

Rio said would own about 44% of Ivanhoe if it converted all of its warrants and securities.