Rio Tinto Group Plc., in talks to mend a rift with Mongolia’s government over a $6.6 billion copper and gold project in the country, will appoint Mongolian national Bold Baatar as president of its copper group.
Bold will be based in London as head of international operations, overseeing mines in countries including Australia, South Africa and Papua New Guinea, Rio Tinto said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. An adviser to Rio for three years, Bold will take up the new role starting June 3 and report to Jean-Sebastian Jacques, chief executive officer of the copper business, Rio said.
Rio’s scheduled June start of production at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, the world’s biggest untapped resource of gold and copper, was thrown in doubt earlier this year as the nation’s government clashed with the world’s second-largest miner over cost overruns at the project. Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said in February the country wants more of its nationals in key positions and greater control of a project that will represent 30 percent of its economy once in full production.
Bold, formerly an investment banker with JPMorgan Chase & Co. based in New York, London and Moscow, has also worked as chief executive officer of Mongolia’s Newcom Group, which among other assets co-owns the country’s biggest telecommunications network together with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. and KDDI Corp. U.S.-educated, Bold in 2011 acquired gold mining company ZAO Zolotoy Vostok Mongolia together with entrepreneur Ganbold Tordai for about $300 million, Ganbold said at the time.
Bold’s advisory role to Rio Tinto over the last three years was focused on Mongolia business, Burenbayar Chanrav, a spokesman for Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the Rio-controlled company that’s developing the namesake mine, said by phone today in Ulaanbaatar.