Rio Tinto suspends exploration in Uzbekistan

Business Materials 18 January 2016 20:04 (UTC +04:00)

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Jan. 18

By Demir Azizov - Trend:

The Australian-British Rio Tinto Mining & Exploration Ltd. (Rio Tinto) has suspended exploration at the promising Gava area in Namangan region of Uzbekistan.

Rio Tinto suspended exploration work at the Gava area due to low world copper prices, a source in the Uzbek State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources told Trend Jan. 18.

"Rio Tinto has informed that it won't invest in exploration in 2016," said the source.

At the same time, he said, the period of suspension of Rio Tinto's activity in Uzbekistan hasn't been defined, and the license agreement hasn't been terminated.

The State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources issued a license to the Rio Tinto in December 2012 for geological survey at the Gava area, which is promising in terms of copper deposits.

The license was granted for five years.

An operator company - Gava Exploration LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rio Tinto) - was established for operations in Uzbekistan. Rio Tinto conducted preliminary geological exploration in June 2013 in the Gava area.

Earlier, Rio Tinto said that in case of positive results, the company can invest up to $100 million in geological exploration for copper in Uzbekistan.

There are about 900 ore occurrences and copper deposits in Uzbekistan, but only three fields of them, which are concentrated in the Almalyk region, have been commissioned so far.

The Almalyk Mining and Metallurgical Combine (AMMC) is the only copper producer in Uzbekistan and one of the largest producers of nonferrous metals in Central Asia.