MELBOURNE Nov 14 Rio Tinto is
set to submit a mine plan to U.S. authorities this week for its
$6 billion Resolution project in Arizona, which could become the
largest copper producer in North America, a spokesman said on
Resolution, 55 percent owned by Rio Tinto and 45 percent
owned by BHP Billiton , could produce more than 1
billion pounds of copper a year at its peak, according to Rio
Tinto's web site.
"On Resolution we are focusing on the submission of our Mine
Plan of Operation to the U.S. Forest Service this week," Rio
Tinto spokesman David Luff said.
Development of the mine hinges on a land swap with the U.S.
government first proposed by Resolution eight years ago, but the
exchange has yet to win approval from Congress due to opposition
from environmental and native American groups.
Rio and BHP have already spent $1 billion on shaft
development and drilling, but slashed spending on the project by
75 percent in 2013 to $50 million as part of their wider global
efforts to slash costs. The firms said they would focus this
year on securing the land swap and permitting for the project.
Analysts have speculated BHP might auction its stake in
Resolution after selling its Pinto Valley mine in Arizona for
$650 million earlier this year, as the world's biggest miner
looks to cut costs and focus on its highest returning
The Resolution project was picked up by BHP in its
disastrous acquisition of Magma Copper in 1996, on which it lost