26 November 2008

Rio Tinto to release results of OPEX/CAPEX review earlier than planned

In the wake of the end of talks by BHP to take over Rio Tinto, the latter is reviewing the books to reassure the marketplace despite the company's $42 billion debt load.

The capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) reviews were slated for release in February 2009, but it now appears Rio will release the results earlier.

In the wake of the BHP pull-out, BHP's stock has risen while Rio has dropped about 34% in value.

Rio Tinto owns a 59% interest in the Ironore Company of Canada (IOCC).

Now word thus far on what if any impact the Rio capex review will have on IOCC's planned three phase expansion at its western Labrador operations.

The expansion was recently cited by Memorial University economist Wade Locke as evidence supporting his projection that markets will recover relatively quickly and return to pre-collapse conditions based on "the fundamentals":

In historical terms, commodity prices are still strong, he explained, and there are positive signs everywhere. He singled out the confidence shown by the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador West, where a major expansion is planned.

"That should tell you everything you need to know. That company believes the future is bright for them and they're increasing their capacity now to take advantage of an improving situation in the future," he said.

Locke made his comments last weekend. News of Rio's capex review came in mid October.  BHP withdrew its offer before Locke's comments appeared in The Telegram.

In early November, Locke hinted at an unidentified major development coming in Labrador.