Rio Tinto to divest Riversdale assets

Miner to sell three mines for $115m as it focusses on core assets.

A group of Indian state-run metal and mining companies is planning to buy three of Rio Tinto's (RIO) coal mines in Mozambique for around $US108 million ($114.7m), said people familiar with the negotiations. 

If the deal goes through, it will be the first acquisition by India's International Coal Ventures, which was set up in 2009 to buy assets abroad by government-run companies including Steel Authority of India, Coal India and power producer NTPC. 

"We expect the deal to be signed over the next three to four days," a government official involved with the negotiations said.

A Rio Tinto spokesman declined to comment Thursday. 

The proposed deal will help provide coking coal for the steelmakers in the group. India imports around 40 million metric tonnes of coking coal a year. 

The sources said ICVL has moved on to buy the 65 per cent stake Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique holds in the Benga Mining project as well as its 100 per cent ownership in two other mines called the Zambeze Project and Tete East Project. In the first half of this year, the mines produced 733,000 tonnes of coking and thermal coal, according to Rio Tinto Coal's latest quarterly report. 

Rio Tinto got the mines in 2011 when it acquired Riversdale Mining. Rio Tinto has been seeking to raise money by selling non-core and poorly performing assets.

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