PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Mining giant Rio Tinto has declined to comment on speculation that it is looking to divest of its New South Wales coal assets.
Wire service Bloomberg earlier this week reported that Rio was in discussions with private mining venture X2 Resources, led by former Xstrata CEO Mick Davis, over the possible sale of its Hunter Valley assets in a deal estimated to be worth some A$3-billion.
The report followed shortly after Rio in September sold its 40% interest in the Bengalla thermal coal mine to Australian coal miner New Hope Corporation for A$865-million.
Bengalla was the smallest of three coal mines in the Hunter Valley in which Rio holds an interest and produced some 8.6-million tonnes of coal in 2014, 3.4-million tonnes of which was attributable to Rio.
Rio’s remaining operations, including the Mount Thorley Warkworth and Hunter Valley operations, were held by subsidiary Coal & Allied.
Rio and Mitsubishi Development recently agreed a simplification of the ownership structure of Coal & Allied, which assisted in the divestment of Bengalla.
Under the agreement, Rio would assume full ownership of Coal & Allied, while Mitsubishi would move from holding a 20% stake in Coal & Allied to holding a direct 32.4% stake in the Hunter Valley Operations mine.