Rio Tinto's Tom Albanese and BHP Billiton's Marius Kloppers find themselves caught up in a tough US political battle as partners on the Resolution Copper venture in Arizona.
At the end of last month the Republican-controlled US Congress approved a bill to make possible a land exchange clearing the way for what would be North America’s largest copper mine. But the world's two biggest mining groups now await approval in the Senate, a much tougher task.
For BHP a go-ahead on Resolution Copper would mean it will at last have something to show for a disastrous acquisition it made more than 15 years ago.
Business Spectator reports the current ore body in Arizona that Resolution Copper seeks to mine is a deep-seated porphyry copper deposit located under the now inactive Magma Mine.
BHP Billiton bought Magma Copper in 1996 for $3.2 billion. The group's San Manual copper smelter in Arizona was considered to be the jewel in the crown, but barely three years later BHP was forced to put it on care and maintenance and then shut it down completely in 2003.
Closure costs added another $800 million to the world's number one miner's most disastrous acquisition to date. Rio Tinto became the joint venture partner on Resolution Copper as a result of these write-offs.