UPDATE 1-Rio Tinto set to decide on expansion of Mongolia copper mine
* Rio lining up funds for Oyu Tolgoi mine
* Copper chief says final investment decision expected early 2016
* Says could see copper supply deficit in 2 or 3 years (Recasts on Mongolia mine; adds comment, detail)
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto is lining up project financing for a $4 billion expansion of its long-delayed Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia and will make a final investment decision early next year, a senior executive said on Thursday.
The mine, which started producing from an open pit over two years ago, is the biggest single foreign investment in Mongolia, and resolution of disputes over its second phase in May revived hopes for a string of other stalled mining projects.
"At the end of the day, what we need is consistency and stability and we believe we have the right environment today," Rio Tinto copper and coal chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said at a Bloomberg News-sponsored forum.
"As we speak, we are putting together the project finance and anticipate that will happen this year," he said.
"We expect early in the next year we will be able to take a decision about restarting the underground construction." Continued...