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Rio Tinto & Codelco Forge Nuevo Cobre JV for Atacama Copper Exploration

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Rio Tinto (RIO) has completed the acquisition of PanAmerican Silver’s stake in Agua de la Falda and has entered into a joint venture with Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) for copper exploration in Chile’s Atacama region.

The $45 million deal, securing a 57.74% operating stake, was finalized today, setting the stage for the Nuevo Cobre (New Copper) joint exploration project.

Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive, and Codelco’s Chairman Maximo Pacheco, met in Tokyo to inaugurate the venture. Stausholm highlighted the partnership’s synergy, combining Rio Tinto’s global exploration prowess with Codelco’s local expertise, aiming to advance the energy transition and achieve net zero emissions.

Pacheco emphasized the joint venture’s potential to expedite the development of copper resources essential for the global energy transition. He also recognized the shared commitment to uphold the highest standards in health, safety, community engagement, and environmental stewardship.

The focus on copper marks a shift from Agua de la Falda’s previous exploration for precious metals. Rio Tinto’s analysis suggests high prospects for new copper discoveries, which will be the joint venture’s primary objective.

This collaboration builds upon an agreement from October 2022, which sought to foster innovation and technology to enhance safety, productivity, and ESG outcomes in underground mining.

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