Rio Tinto Is in Mozambique Talks on New Coal Transportation Plan

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest mining company, said it’s in talks with the Mozambique government as it seeks a new plan to enable coal exports from a project in the country.

“Our priority now is to find a suitable infrastructure solution through discussions with the government so that we can move forward with the development of this asset,” Alan Davies, chief executive officer of Rio’s diamonds and minerals unit, said today at a conference in Cape Town. “We take a long-term view when we invest in our assets.”

Rio 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 blocked a plan put forward by London-based Rio to move coal shipments by barge along the Zambezi river for export.

Harry Kenyon-Slaney, Rio’s CEO for energy, held talks with officials in Mozambique’s Mineral Resources Ministry and the state railway operator as the company seeks alternative options to transport coal, a person familiar with the talks said last week, requesting anonymity because the talks were private.

Rio last month announced a total $14 billion of writedowns for failed deals in aluminum and the Mozambique coal purchase. That led to CEO Tom Albanese departing after almost six years in charge.

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