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    OXIANA has outed itself as one of a long list of potential buyers of Rio Tinto's non-core assets after the latter's $US38 billion ($43.4 billion) purchase of Canadian aluminium producer Alcan.

    Oxiana managing director Owen Hegarty, a former Rio executive, said his company would be interested in a range of Rio's assets but primarily its copper-gold operations.

    Oxiana's foundation asset, its Sepon copper and gold operation in Laos, was once owned by Rio.

    "We are looking at all of those assets, as you would suspect; like a lot of people, I suppose," Mr Hegarty said, "but we've got a good record and … a good history of transactions with Rio."

    Rio plans to sell more than $US10 billion of smaller assets after it completes the Alcan deal.

    Rio finance director Guy Elliott last week said he had already received numerous expressions of interest in relation to various assets.

    However, he said no decision would be made until sometime next year after it had integrated the Alcan portfolio.

    Mr Hegarty did not name specific mines he was targeting, but based on location, commodities and size, Rio's Northparkes copper-gold mine in NSW might be of interest.

    Northparkes produced 66,600 tonnes of copper and 76,000 ounces of gold last year, compared to Rio's 266,000 tonnes of copper production in Utah and 394,000 tonnes from its share of the Escondida mine in Chile.

    Oxiana's $775 million Prominent Hill open-pit project under construction in South Australia is expected to produce 104,000 tonnes of copper a year for the first four years, falling to 71,000 for the next six years, but Mr Hegarty said the company was studying the possibility of a small underground operation in the short term, and possibly a bulk mining operation similar to Newcrest's Cadia Valley mines.

    Oxiana released its quarterly production results yesterday. The miner produced 25,800 ounces of gold and 16,300 tonnes of copper from its Sepon deposits in Laos.

    Its Golden Grove base metals operation in Western Australia focused on zinc mining during the quarter, producing 36,700 tonnes of zinc and 4,700 tonnes of copper.

    RBC Capital Markets analyst Geoff Breen said Oxiana's quarterly product was "good" and had met its guidance.

    "The key thing is Prominent Hill is on time and on budget," he said.

    Mr Breen noted that Oxiana had plenty of cash and a $US525 million syndicated bank facility in place, giving it room to acquire more projects or companies.

 
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