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Rio Tinto being investigated by Financial Conduct Authority

Rio Tinto being investigated by Financial Conduct Authority over claims it misled market about its sprawling £5bn copper mine in Mongolia

  • The City regulator is questioning those previously linked to the project, ahead of potentially launching an official probe 
  • Other authorities are also looking into the allegations, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a source 
  • Rio is alleged to have known the mine was running late and over-budget months before it informed investors via market announcements 


Rio Tinto is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority over claims it misled the market about its sprawling £5billion copper mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. 

The City regulator is questioning those previously linked to the project, sources told the Mail, ahead of potentially launching an official probe. 

Other authorities are also looking into the allegations, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a source. 

Claim: Rio Tinto is alleged to have known the mine – called Oyu Tolgoi – was running late and overbudget months before it informed investors

Rio is alleged to have known the mine – called Oyu Tolgoi – was running late and over-budget months before it informed investors via market announcements. 

In 2019 it said it would need additional funds of up to £1.3billion to complete the sprawling project, and blamed the ballooning costs on ‘geotechnical issues’. 

But investors and whistle-blowers claim these problems were only a fraction of the cost overruns and that the vast majority were down to poor project management. 

The Mongolia problems will be the first test for new chief executive Jakob Stausholm’s commitment to what he describes as ‘impeccable’ environmental, social and governance standards. 

His predecessor, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, was in charge of the Oyu Tolgoi project when it is alleged that Rio lied to investors, and the success of the venture was crucial to his promotion to the top role. 

Production is due to start at Oyu Tolgoi late next year, and is expected to peak at around 500,000 tonnes of copper a year, making it the world’s fourth largest copper mine. 

Copper is a key material needed for the green revolution, used in both electric cars and wind turbines. 

The area around the mine was investigated for copper reserves in the early 2000s and Rio has been involved in the project for over a decade. 

A subsidiary company called Turquoise Hill Resources – of which Rio is the majority investor – owns 66 per cent of the mine, while the Mongolian government owns the rest, but Rio oversees all day-to-day activities. The Mongolian government has launched an independent review to investigate the cost overruns. 

Pentwater Capital Management, an investor in Turquoise Hill Resources, launched a legal claim against Turquoise Hill in the US, echoing the claims that Rio hid the real reasons for running overbudget and behind schedule. 

Rio and the FCA declined to comment.

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