UPDATE 1-Anglo American pleased with Brazil iron port progress-CEO
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Global miner Anglo American Plc is satisfied with progress at the Minas-Rio iron ore terminal it is building with Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista's LLX Logística SA and expects to load the first exports from the project in late 2014, executives said on Tuesday.
Anglo American Chief Executive Mark Cutifani, who took over at the company in April is under pressure to make the over-budget and behind-schedule Minas-Rio project it bought from Batista for $6.65 billion in 2008 work. Batista, a former billionarire, is scrambling to find new investment for his crumbling EBX mining, port, oil and shipbuilding empire.
The iron ore terminal removes ore mined in Brazil's highland state of Minas Gerais from a slurry sent 525 kilometers (326 miles) to the Port of Açu north of Rio de Janeiro in a pipeline. The ore will then be loaded on ships for transport to clients around the world.
While several years behind schedule and costs are soaring, the first phase of Anglo American's Minas-Rio project is nearing completion. The company has obtained 98 percent of the needed licenses for the project, Cutifani told reporters at a mining conference in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The project will have an initial capacity to mine and ship 26.5 million tonnes of ore.
Earlier this year, Anglo American said it would cost $8.8 billion to develop Minas-Rio, more than three times the original cost estimate.
Cutifani also said that entry of a new controlling shareholder in LLX will have no impact on Anglo American's rights to load iron ore at the Port of Açu. In August, Washington, D.C.-based EIG Global energy Partners agreed to invest 1.3 billion reais in the port operation company.
Batista, who gave up control of LLX under the agreement, had been seeking new investment in many of his EBX Group companies. The market value of most EBX companies fell more than 90 percent in the last year after lower-than-expected oil output at his oil unit OGX Petróleo e Gás Participações SA led to a plunge in the stock of all six traded EBX companies.
The resulting plunge in his personal fortune starved Batista of capital to keep investing in the money-losing startups.
Cutifani told reporters that his company does not plan to sell its phosphate assets and will expand the fertilizer mining business in Brazil.
Anglo American executives had previously said the company was trying to produce more phosphate in Brazil to meet the agricultural power's growing fertilizer demand.
Cutifani said Brazilian government efforts to push a new mining code through congress have been stalled so that the government could hear more industry concerns about the legislation.