UPDATE 2-Rio Tinto expects Mongolia nod for copper exports soon

Thu May 9, 2013 3:34am EDT
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* Rio Tinto CEO rejects idea of a fire sale of unwanted assets

* Says awaiting Mongolia approval to ship copper concentrate

* Should offset impact of disruption at copper mine in Utah

* Defends plans to expand iron ore mining as market softens

By James Regan

SYDNEY, May 9 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto could be two weeks away from gaining Mongolian approval to ship copper from its Oyu Tolgoi mine, helping offset a slide in revenue from its U.S. copper business as it faces pressure to slash costs and sell non-core assets.

A landslide at the firm's Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah in April, which could result in over $700 million in lost sales revenue based on Reuters calculations, was unlikely to force a rethink on assets sales, Chief Executive Sam Walsh told shareholders at the annual meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

There has been speculation that moves by Rio Tinto to sell its Northparkes copper mine in Australia could be delayed until full production resumed at Bingham Canyon.

"We are not expecting that that (the landslide) will have a difference" on divestment decisions, said Walsh, adding the firm would also not be draw into a "fire sale" of businesses.   Continued...