Rio Tinto has reached an agreement to purchase the Three Springs talc mine and processing plant in Western Australia from WMC for US$27.8 million cash. The sale is expected to be finalized before the end of the year and is subject to government approvals. The mine, 330 km north of Perth, is capable of producing up to 200,000 tonnes of talc annually, and the associated mill has an annual capacity of 40,000 tonnes. Rio Tinto's wholly owned subsidiary, Luzenac, will manage the assets. "Rio Tinto's broad international experience in the talc industry will bring significant new development and growth opportunities to this Australian business," said Tom Albanese, chief executive of Rio Tinto's Industrial Minerals Product Group. The purchase complements Rio Tinto's existing talc mines, which include the world's largest talc mine in France as well as operations in Austria, Belgium, UK, Italy, Spain, Canada, Mexico and the USA. These mines have an annual production of about 1.3 million tonnes.
The company's website is located at http://www.riotinto.com.