BHP 1.66% $46.23 bhp group limited

sells 3rd largest cu mine for $5m

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    BHP in talks to sell Oyu Tolgoi stake
    By Kevin Morrison, 18:50 GMT Nov 2, 2003

    BHP Billiton and Ivanhoe Mines are in talks that are expected to lead to Australia-based BHP selling its last remaining interest in Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposits to Ivanhoe.

    BHP Billiton and Ivanhoe are expected to announce this week that the Toronto-listed miner has bought BHP Billiton's 2 per cent royalty interest on all metal sold from Oyu Tolgoi, also known as Turquoise Hill.

    Ivanhoe is thought to have paid less than $50m for the royalty.

    Turquoise Hill is still in the feasibility stage but Robert Friedland, chairman of Ivanhoe Mines and its largest shareholder with a 40.5 per cent stake, told the Financial Times in a recent interview that Turquoise Hill could come into production as early as 2005.

    Ivanhoe paid BHP Billiton an initial sum of $5m in May 2000 for the project.

    Turquoise Hill has attracted significant investor interest this summer.

    Ivanhoe Mines shares have almost tripled to C$12.70 since July following the release of drilling results that indicated "inferred" and "indicated" resources that would make it the world's third- largest copper deposit after the Grasberg mine in Indonesia and Chuquicamata in Chile.

    Robert Friedland, chairman and the largest shareholder of Ivanhoe, is best known for the discovery and subsequent sale of the Voisey's Bay nickel project in Canada to Inco for $4.3bn in 1996.

    Mr Friedland has said that Turquoise Hill is not for sale. Although he said there was scope for either a mining company or a government-owned entity to take a minority interest in the project, he estimated that the project would cost about $1.2bn to construct.
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