Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said on Friday the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States could help boost commodities demand and cut red tape, boosting the mining industry. The world’s second-biggest mining company has long planned to dig a copper mine in Arizona with BHP Billiton , called Resolution, but the project has yet to win government approvals, with applications on hold due to Congressional opposition over environmental concerns.
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“The permitting process in the US is very, very slow,” Jacques said. “I have to say if the Trump administration’s intention is to cut through red tape, there could be some significant benefits for all of us,” the executive said, speaking at a Melbourne Mining Club lunch.
Separately, Jacques declined to comment on when Rio Tinto expects to receive its first payment from China’s Chinalco in the sale of its 46.6 percent stake in the $20 billion Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, agreed in October. “We have to close the deal first,” he said. So far Rio had only signed a formal heads of agreement with state-owned Chinalco, Jacques said.
The deal was announced just 12 days before Rio Tinto revealed it had alerted anti-bribery authorities in the U.S., UK and Australia about emails between top executives discussing $10.5 million in payments to an adviser who had helped it secure rights to Simandou in 2011.
Jacques also skirted a question on whether the company was investigating any ethical breaches on any of its other projects.
The executive repeated comments he made at an investor briefing in Sydney on Thursday – that he takes integrity and the company’s code of conduct “very, very seriously”.
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