Rio Tinto share price: Miner loses court battle over Warkworth mine expansion
iNVEZZ.com Monday, March 17: Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) today lost a court appeal in Australia against a ruling that halted the expansion of the Warkworth coal mine in New South Wales. As of 08.17 BST shares of the FTSE 100 miner were trading 10.00p or 0.30 percent lower at 3,370.50p.
Rio Tinto appealed to the supreme court to overturn a ruling by the land and environment court – a lower instance court – in favour of environmental groups who claimed the benefits of the mine expansion didn’t make up for the negative social and environmental consequences.
Instead of waiting for the court appeal, Rio Tinto submitted revised development plans for the Warkworth mine under New South Wales state planning laws introduced last year. “We don’t think that Rio Tinto’s new submission is any different from the old one and we will fight it,” said John Lamb, president of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, the group that filed the lawsuit. The new proposal by the mining giant includes the donation of 1,800 hectares of land towards a national park in the Upper Hunter Valley, near to the Goulburn River National Park.
Rio Tinto has said that the expansion plans were necessary to maintain the mine’s long-term viability. The Warkworth mine is part of the integrated Mount Thorley Warkworth operation consisting of two open-cut mines adjacent to each other in the Hunter valley. The operation produces 10 million of semi-soft coking coal and thermal coal a year.
**Rio offers equity stakes in its coal mines to Coal India**
Are you looking for fast-news, hot-tips and market analysis? Sign-up for the Invezz newsletter, today.
Rio Tinto has offered equity in its coal mines to Coal India, the world’s largest coal producing company, according to reports in the media. The Indian government-owned company has about $6.65 billion (₤4 billion) to invest in coal mines over the next five years and has received at least 60 proposals from companies such as Rio and GVK.
Coal India’s unit Coal Videsh was previously in discussions with global coal firms such as Rio and Peabody Energy Corp to form a strategic alliance to mine coal in the US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.
**Analysts on Rio Tinto**
Espirito Santo Investment Bank Research reaffirmed its ‘sell’ rating on Rio’s shares in an investor note sent last week. It gave the stock a price target of 2,790.00p, indicating a potential downside of about 17 percent from today’s opening price of 3,362.00p.
Four equity analysts rate Rio as a ‘sell’, five give it a ‘hold’ rating and 18 are calling it a ‘buy’. The shares have a consensus rating of ‘buy’ and an average price target of 3,739.04p.
**As of 08.41 BST buy Rio Tinto shares at 3,360.10p.**
**As of 08.41 BST sell Rio Tinto shares at 3,359.90p.**