Rio Tinto Invests $469 Million in U.S. Nickel, Copper Mine

Construction of the new underground mine in Michigan is expected to begin by late 2013.

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto announced on June 16 that it was investing $469 million to develop a nickel and copper mine in the United States.

Construction of the Kennecott Eagle mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which will begin this year, comes as the global miner is locked in a fierce row with the Australian government over a proposed new mining tax.

"Moving to the construction phase of Eagle is part of our strategy to increase investment in attractive growth projects in 2010," said Andrew Harding, head of Rio's copper division.

"The long-term demand outlook remains strong for both nickel and copper and bringing Eagle on stream will give us greater benefit from that growth."

Rio, one of the world's biggest miners, argues that the Australian government's planned 40% tax on resources profits will drive investment overseas.

Rio said the construction of the new underground mine in Michigan, which is expected to begin production by late 2013, would go ahead after it received environmental approval.

The company said the new mine would be the only primary nickel mine in the United States.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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