LONDON (dpa-AFX) - Mining giant Rio Tinto Plc. (RTNTF.PK, RIO, RIO.L, RTPPF.PK) reportedly said it remains on track to start production at its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia by the middle of the year, contrary to reports that it might temporarily halt construction because of political issues.
Earlier, Bloomberg had reported, citing people familiar with the plans, that the Anglo-Australian miner was considering a temporary halt to construction work at the $6.2 billion mine in protest over Mongolian government's demands for a bigger stake in the project and new mining royalty rates.
Rio Tinto subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) owns 66 percent of Oyu Tolgoi, which is currently the world's biggest copper project under construction, while the Mongolian government owns the remaining 34 percent stake.
'The power is secured, first ore produced and the concentrator switched on and we are on schedule for first commercial production in the first half of the year. We continue to work together with all stakeholders including the government of Mongolia to bring the benefits of Oyu Tolgoi to all parties,' Rio Tinto said Thursday.
It was reported that Mongolian government, led by Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag, tries to maintain support for foreign investment amid growing nationalism and wealth disparity.
Turquoise Hill shares closed Wednesday's trading $7.86, down $0.29 or 3.56 percent.
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