Rio Unit to Proceed With $2.4 Billion Rights Offer

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., the Rio Tinto Group unit that operates the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, will proceed with a $2.4 billion rights offer to repay credit facilities.

Investors will get one right for each Turquoise Hill share, entitling them to buy another share for either $2.40 or C$2.53, the Vancouver-based company said yesterday in a statement. That represents a discount of 42 percent to Nov. 25 closing prices in New York and Toronto respectively.

Turquoise Hill expects to double the number of outstanding common shares with the offer, which will be open for 27 days through Jan. 7. London-based Rio, which has a 51 percent stake in the company, will buy stock not taken up by other investors. The proceeds will be used to repay a $1.8 billion interim credit facility, and a $600 million bridging facility with Rio.

Turquoise Hill said Nov. 14 it was readying a rights offer after failing to obtain long-term project financing for Oyu Tolgoi because of disagreements with the Mongolian government. In July, Rio delayed work on a planned underground expansion of the mine, which is expected to cost about $5.1 billion, while it talked with the government to resolve disagreements on funding and other issues.

Rio, the world’s second-biggest mining company by market value, and Mongolia have yet to resolve “broad” issues related to cost overruns and the mine’s long-term financing, Davaadorj Ganbold, a director of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, said in an interview on Oct. 26.

Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi is the state-owned company that holds 34 percent of the mine, while Turquoise Hill owns the rest. Oyu Tolgoi is located 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Chinese border and is forecast to account for about a third of Mongolia’s economy when fully operational.

The shares rose 1.8 percent to C$4.47 at the close yesterday in Toronto.

BHP Billiton Ltd. is the world’s largest mining company by market value.