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rio to tick up uranium (already posted)

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    Rio to tick up uranium sans WMC
    August 08, 2005
    RIO Tinto wants to increase its interests in uranium, even though it decided against trying to buy WMC Resources.

    Rio chief executive officer Leigh Clifford confirmed yesterday what the market had long thought: that the mining giant had been interested in bidding for WMC Resources, the world's third-largest uranium producer.
    "Absolutely, we had a look at it, we were all over it, but we couldn't see a value-creating proposition for us and that is why we weren't there," Mr Clifford told the Nine Network's Business Sunday program.

    WMC Resources was snapped by up Rio Tinto's rival, BHP Billiton, for $9.2 billion earlier this year.

    But Mr Clifford said Rio Tinto remained interested in uranium as it became more popular around the world.

    "We are always alert to discoveries and value-creating opportunities and uranium is very much back on the agenda as far as the energy mix around the world," he said.

    "You are seeing a number of countries looking at quite substantial increases in their nuclear power generation."
    Some of those new opportunities may be in the Northern Territory, which the federal Government hopes to open up for more uranium mining.

    Last week, the federal Government intervened to declare the territory "open for business" on its rich uranium resources, despite the Northern Territory Government's fierce opposition.

    However, Mr Clifford said Rio Tinto's main focus in the territory at the moment was with Energy Resources of Australia.

    Rio Tinto has a 68.4 per cent stake in ERA, which runs the Ranger mine in Kakadu National Park.

    "Our focus in the Northern Territory is very much on ERA, managing that mine very well and improving the relationships with the traditional owners there so that we can contemplate a longer life for that operation," Mr Clifford said.

    He was speaking after last week announcing a record half-yearly net profit of $US2.16 billion ($2.81 billion) for Rio Tinto, underpinned by booming commodity prices.

    He says demand across the board is "very strong" and has tipped commodity prices to remain above their long-term trend, at least for a little while.

    Analysts now expect Rio Tinto's full-year result to go as high as $US4 billion, which would be more than double last year's profit.


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