Rio reassures on Pilbara plans

Miner pressured to cancel expansion, return cash to shareholders.

The head of Rio Tinto's (RIO) iron ore division, Andrew Harding, has sought to reassure investors that he will not lead the miner through its large-scale Pilbara expansion plans unless there is a sound business case for doing so, as he seeks to deflect shareholder pressure to return excess cash to investors instead of embark on the planned expansion, according to The Australian Financial Review.

If it follows through on the expansion, Rio would become the world's largest iron ore producer. But Rio and other large miners have faced pressure to revisit expansion plans until the outlook for Chinese commodity demand becomes more clear.

But Mr Harding said that achieving such distinctions will not drive the decision, unless the expansion makes sound investment sense.

“If I am required to build the business to a certain size because it maximises value, I will do that if it's sensible and if there's another way that maximises and increases value I will do that, but I am not in love with any of it.” Mr Harding said, according to the AFR.

“You have to maintain an ego that does not need to be satisfied in building things.

“I'm a mining engineer, I am not a romantic truck lover or process plant person or anything like that.”  

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