LONDON, Jun. 17 -- Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto PLC (RTP) Tuesday said it will invest $469 million to build the Kennecott Eagle nickel and copper mine in Michigan, U.S. after receiving the final environmental approvals for the project.
Rio Tinto plans to produce an average of 17,300 metric tons of nickel and 13,200 tons of copper metal annually over six years from the mine.
Construction of the mine and mill will begin this year and first production is expected in late 2013.
"The long-term demand outlook remains strong for both nickel and copper and bringing Eagle on stream will give us greater benefit from that growth," said Andrew Harding, chief executive of Rio Tinto's copper division.
Eagle will be the only primary nickel mine in the U.S., and is the first new mining operation to be built in Michigan in decades under some of the most stringent environmental rules in the country, the company said.
The mine is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a highly prospective region for nickel and copper exploration. Rio Tinto is actively exploring for additional resources in the vicinity, the company said.
At 1440 GMT, Rio Tinto's shares in London were down 5.50 pence 0.2% at 3306p, in line with a similar fall in Anglo-Australian peer BHP Billiton Ltd's (BHP) shares. London's FTSE-100 stock index, however, was up 0.3%.