Mozambique in talks with Rio Tinto

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BeiraCoal Reuters. Workers walk near a cargo ship at the Beira port in Mozambique in this file picture.

Johannesburg - Mozambique’s government said it’s in talks with Rio Tinto over capital gains tax on the company’s $4.2 billion acquisition of Benga coal mines from Riversdale Mining in 2011.

“The Riversdale-Rio Tinto business is still on the table,” Mozambique Tax Authority President Rosario Fernandes told reporters late yesterday in the capital, Maputo.

“At some stage they have to follow local law” as the acquisition involved mining assets in Mozambique, she said.

Rio has complied with all applicable tax legislation, David Outhwaite, a spokesman for the London-based company, said by phone. Rio paid $4 million in tax to Mozambique last year, according to a company report published earlier this month.

The company paid a total of $7.5 billion in taxes for 2013, it said.

Rio, the world’s second-biggest mining company, last year wrote down the value of the Mozambique assets by $3 billion, citing transportation constraints and a cut to recoverable coking coal estimates.

The Mozambique government rejected Rio’s proposal to boost shipments from the Benga mine by barging coal down the Zambezi River.

Mozambique expects to more than double the $1.3 billion it raised from capital gains tax on five deals since 2012 with another 10 transactions pending, said Fernandes.

Anadarko Petroleum paid tax of $520 million after selling its 10 percent stake in a Mozambique gas field to ONGC Videsh, a unit of India’s biggest energy explorer, the tax authority said. - Bloomberg News

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