Rio Said to Hold Mozambique Talks to Resolve Coal-Mine Impasse

Rio Tinto Group (RIO)’s head of energy met with Mozambique government officials this week, two weeks after a $3 billion writedown on the value of a coal project in country, according to two people familiar with matter.

Rio’s Harry Kenyon-Slaney, who has been in Mozambique since Jan. 28, held talks with officials in the Mineral Resources ministry and the state railway operator as the company seeks alternative options to transport coal, one of the people said. Both requested anonymity because the talks are private.

Rio Tinto, the second-biggest mining company, said Jan. 17 it is writing down the value of assets acquired from Riversdale Mining Ltd. for A$3.9 billion ($4.1 billion) less than two years after completing the deal. Mozambique has so far blocked a plan put forward by Rio to move coal shipments by barge along the Zambezi river for export.

Discussions with the government focused on other possibilities to export the coal from the country and the evaluation of reserves at the sites, the people said.

A Rio Tinto official in London declined to comment.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese resigned Jan. 17 as the company announced that it would take about $14 billion in writedowns, largely on the purchase of aluminum producer Alcan Inc. and the Mozambique coal assets. He was replaced by Sam Walsh, formerly Rio’s head of iron ore.

To contact the reporters on this story: William Felimao in Maputo at wfelimao@bloomberg.net; Jesse Riseborough in London at jriseborough@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net

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