Fortescue puts Mongolian coal on the menu

Fortescue Metals Group has expressed interest in acquiring the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit in Mongolia, but insists it remains focused on iron ore.

Executive director Russell Scrimshaw says the miner is ‘‘very focused’’ on expanding its iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, but will also consider coal mining in Mongolia.

He said Fortescue had submitted a capability statement and expression of interest for the Tavan Tolgoi asset.
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‘‘In Mongolia, we responded to an expression of interest, so we’re one of a large number of people, and we’ll just see what happens with that one,’’ Mr Scrimshaw told a media teleconference today.

‘‘It’s reflective of the fact that our customers ask us first of all ‘how much iron ore can I have? Please, I want some more’, but also ‘what other things can you provide to me?’.

‘‘So we will always look at good opportunities if they are there and, of course, if we choose to pursue them, we’ll let the market know.’’

Tavan Tolgoi is reportedly the world’s largest untapped coking coal deposit and bidding to acquire it is fierce.

Reports claim steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal and the world’s largest iron ore miner, Brazil’s Vale, are among 15 bidders vying for the project.

It was revealed in August last year that Fortescue was considering branching into coal when the miner advertised in an Aspermont publication for a specialist coal geologist to assess opportunities offered to Fortescue.

Mr Scrimshaw said Mongolia was becoming a top mining region.

‘‘Mongolia is a rapidly growing resources opportunity, as are many other parts of the world. So, may I add, is the Pilbara.‘‘That’s our principal organisation focus in the months and years ahead.

‘‘The Pilbara has proven to be a wonderful home for us and we will continue to grow that opportunity.

‘‘Being a big and successful company that we now are, we regularly see opportunities presented to us all over the world.’’




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