September 13, 2012 / 11:53 PM / 5 years ago

Anglo American allowed to resume Brazil iron mine work

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) received approval from a Brazilian court to restart mine construction at its Minas-Rio iron ore project, the company said on Thursday.

Work can now resume on the mine and processing plant in the towns of Conceicao do Mato Dentro and Dom Joaquim in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. The work was halted after sites of potential archeological value were discovered during construction.

A judge stopped the work on March 19, pending approval from IPHAN, a Brazilian historical preservation agency, to proceed.

With that approval now granted, the court allowed work to resume. More than 80 percent of the artefacts discovered in the area were recovered and the site was photographed while construction was suspended, the company said.

An environmental license required for the construction of an electrical transmission line for the project is still suspended, pending another court decision.

Anglo American’s Minas-Rio project has faced a series of delays since it was purchased for $5.5 billion (3.4 billion pounds) from Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s MMX Mineracao e Metais (MMXM3.SA) in 2008. These delays have raised concern over whether the company will be able to deliver on other projects such as a coal mine in Mozambique.

The company blamed delays at the Minas-Rio project in part for its smaller-than-expected profits in the first half of the year.

    Anglo American is the world’s largest producer of platinum and fourth-largest producer of iron ore. It is also a major producer of diamonds, copper, iron ore, nickel and coal.

    The company plans to spend $2 billion this year on the mine, processing plant and a 525 km iron ore pipeline connecting the mine to the Porto de Açu in Rio de Janeiro state. Anglo said in July that it hopes to ship its first ore from Açu, owned by Batista’s LLX Logistica LLXL3.SA, in 2014.

    Minas-Rio, Anglo’s biggest iron ore project worldwide, is expected to produce 26.5 million tonnes of iron ore per year in its first phase.

    Anglo American’s shares rose 0.4 percent to 1891 British pence in London on Thursday before the announcement.

    Additional reporting and writing by Anna Irrera; Editing by Bernard Orr, Gary Hill

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