Global miner Rio Tinto has agreed to acquire 15 million shares in Ivan­hoe Mines Ltd at a subscription price of CdnUSD16.31 per share, boosting its ownership in Ivanhoe Mines by 2.7 per cent to 22.4 per cent. The total consideration for this acquisition is USUSD259 million.

The shares are being issued to Rio Tinto in satisfaction of an arrange­ment with Ivanhoe Mines in 2008 to finance equipment for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold complex in Mongolia’s South Gobi region.

By financing the equipment at that time, Rio Tinto provided Ivanhoe Mines with the funds necessary for the ongoing development of the Oyu Tolgoi project and maintained the critical long lead manufacturing time for the equipment.

Both companies are development partners for the Oyu Tolgoi project. Production is expected to commence in 2013, with a five year ramp up to full expected production of 450,000 tonnes of copper per year and 330,000 ounces of gold.

Andrew Harding, chief executive for Rio Tinto copper declared the company was working with Ivanhoe Mines on finalising the conditions precedent for completion of the In­vestment Agreement with the Gov­ernment of Mongolia. 

After the completion of the acqui­sition, Rio Tinto will own 98.6 million shares of Ivanhoe Mines. If Rio Tinto were to exercise all its share purchase warrants and convert its USUSD350 mil­lion loan into shares it would own ap­proximately 267.6 million shares of Ivanhoe Mines representing 44.0 per cent of Ivanhoe Mines.

Rio shares rose 0.9 percent to USUSD71.10 on Monday as copper pric­es jumped on worries about supplies after the massive earthquake in Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, while Ivanhoe shares soared by more than 6 per cent in early trade, improv­ing slightly more than 1 per cent.

Oyu Tolgoi, in the Gobi desert, is thought to be one of the world’s larg­est untapped copper and gold depos­its.