MELBOURNE — Rio Tinto has put on hold all work on an underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia after the government said parliament will need to approve financing for the project, which is expected to cost more than US$5-billion.
The indefinite delay marks the latest bump in the road for the global miner at one of its biggest projects, which started exporting copper earlier in July following two last-minute hiccups in securing government approval.
“The Mongolian Parliament is currently in summer recess and the parliamentary approval process may take some time to work through,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.
The company said it remained committed to working with the government to secure the project financing.
“However, in view of the current uncertainty, including continued discussions with the government on a range of other issues, all funding and work on the underground development will be delayed until these matters are concluded and a new timetable has been agreed,” Rio Tinto said.