Lundin to buy Rio nickel-copper project for $325 mln

Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:35pm EDT

TORONTO, June 12 (Reuters) - Lundin Mining Corp said on Wednesday it had reached a deal to buy a nickel-copper project under construction in Michigan from Rio Tinto for $325 million.

The Eagle Mine is expected to start production in the fourth quarter of 2014, with output targeted at some 23,000 tonnes of nickel and 20,000 tonnes of copper annually over the first three years of full production.

Rio Tinto, with $19 billion of debt, has vowed to slash costs and divest non-core assets.

The Michigan project is set to be Lundin's first mine in North America. It will pay $250 million for the half-finished project, and spend $75 million in construction costs before closing the deal.

Lundin said it expects cash costs to average about $2 per pound of nickel in the first three years.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed in July 2013.