The
world’s second biggest mining company Rio Tinto has a lower level of
Australian ownership than first thought, after aggressively pursuing
the North American investment market over the past few years. The
ownership break down of the $95 billion dual-listed company, which has
56% of its assets in Australia, is as follows:

UK: 50%
North America: 20%
Australia: 15%
Europe: 10%
Asia: 5%

Contrast that with the $150 billion BHP-Billiton which breaks down as follows:

Australia: 40%
UK: 25%
North America: 15%
South Africa: 10%
Asia: 5%
Europe: 5%

Therefore,
in today’s five $1 billion-plus resource projects for our great “who
owns Australia” list we’re focusing on Rio Tinto:

Hope Downs:
Rio Tinto 50% and billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting 50%,
so Australian ownership is a
healthy 57.5% at what will be Australia’s newest iron-ore mine when the
$1.3 billion project goes into production by 2008. Full annual capacity
of 22 million tonnes would generate $1.6 billion a year based on the
2006-07 contract prices of $70 a tonne.

Eastern Range: Rio Tinto 54% and Shanghai Baosteel Group
Corporation 46%, so overall Australian ownership just 8.1%. Produces 6.5
million tonnes a year worth $450 million based on 2006-07 contract
prices so the WA royalty is about $17 million a year.

Mesa J: This Pilbara mine is the world’s biggest supplier of
low grade iron-ore. A massive 50-60 million tonnes is shifted each year
which, after processing, translates into about 32 million tonnes of
saleable ore, worth about $1.8 billion. Rio Tinto owns 53%, Mitsui 33%,
Nippon Steel 10.5% and Sumitomo Metal
3.5%, so overall Australian ownership is just 8% but the WA government
pockets a 3.75% royalty which is worth about $70 million a year for
taxpayers.

Channar: The
two coastal Pilbara iron-ore mines are linked by a conveyor and have
capacity of 10 million tonnes worth about $700 million based on 2006-07
contract prices. Rio Tinto owns 60% and China Iron and Steel the
remaining 40%, so overall Australian ownership is just 9% and the WA
government’s 3.75% royalty would deliver about $60 million a year.

West Angelas: The $880 million Pilbara iron ore mine commenced
production in 2002 at a rate of 7 million tonnes per annum, but is now
up to 25 million, which will be worth $1.75 billion based on 2006-07
contract prices. Rio Tinto owns 53%, Mitsui 33%, Nippon Steel 10.5% and
Sumitomo Metal 3.5%, so overall Australian ownership is just 8% but the
WA government pockets a 3.75% royalty which should be worth $65 million
next year.