RIO - Rio Tinto Group

NYSE - Nasdaq Real Time Price. Currency in USD
+0.48 (+0.87%)
As of 12:50PM EST. Market open.
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Previous Close55.37
Bid55.77 x 1200
Ask55.78 x 800
Day's Range55.76 - 56.42
52 Week Range44.62 - 64.02
Avg. Volume1,871,620
Market Cap94.255B
Beta (3Y Monthly)0.82
PE Ratio (TTM)7.00
EPS (TTM)7.97
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield3.02 (5.45%)
Ex-Dividend Date2019-08-08
1y Target Est55.94
  • Apple Buys First Carbon-Free Aluminum from Rio-Alcoa Venture

    Apple Buys First Carbon-Free Aluminum from Rio-Alcoa Venture

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is taking delivery this month of the first batch of carbon-free aluminum produced by a Montreal-based venture, helping move the iPhone maker closer to its greenhouse-gas reduction goal.Elysis, a joint venture between Rio Tinto Group and Alcoa Corp. backed by Apple, uses new technology that emits pure oxygen when producing aluminum. Apple has said in an environment report that 80% of its emissions from an iPhone 8 came during the production phase. The metal is also used in iPads, Macs and Apple watches.“For more than 130 years, aluminum — a material common to so many products consumers use daily — has been produced the same way,” Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives at Apple, said in an emailed statement.Rio’s commercial network is handling the first delivery to Apple, a Rio spokesman said in an email.“This is another important step towards zero carbon aluminum and a more sustainable future,” said Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive officer.The metal being shipped to Apple was produced at the Alcoa Technical Center in Pittsburgh.“This first sale is tangible evidence of our revolutionary work to transform and disrupt the conventional smelting process by making a process that is both more efficient and more sustainable,” Benjamin Kahrs, an Alcoa executive vice president and Chief Innovation Officer, said in a statement.\--With assistance from Mark Gurman and Steven Frank.To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Deaux in New York at jdeaux@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at, Joe RichterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Apple buys first-ever carbon-free aluminium from Alcoa-Rio Tinto venture

    Apple buys first-ever carbon-free aluminium from Alcoa-Rio Tinto venture

    The metal is being made by Elysis, a Montreal-based joint venture of Alcoa Corp and Rio Tinto announced last year with $144 million (£112.24 million) in funding from the two companies, Apple and the governments of Canada and Quebec. The aluminium will be shipped this month from an Alcoa research facility in Pittsburgh and used in Apple products, although the technology company did not say which ones. The smelting process involves passing electrical current through a large block of carbon called an anode, which burns off during the process and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  • Buying Iron Ore Is Getting More Like Shopping on Amazon

    Buying Iron Ore Is Getting More Like Shopping on Amazon

    (Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest iron ore miners are looking for novel ways of satisfying their customers and protecting market share in the $150 billion global industry.From selling through a mobile app to portside sales, the likes of BHP Group, Rio Tinto Group and Vale SA are looking for an edge with buyers of the steelmaking raw material in China, the top customer. The need to retain their business is becoming ever more critical amid forecasts that the market is around its peak.“For miners, Chinese import volumes are basically not going to grow the way they used to,” said Tomas Gutierrez, analyst at Kallanish Commodities Ltd. “Any increase in value for iron ore will come from either adding service to mills or from cutting out the traders.”Rio and rivals -- who have spent more than a decade pumping billions into expansions to keep pace with China’s fast-rising appetite for iron ore -- are now preparing for an era of slower growth and an eventual high point in the nation’s steel output.They are introducing a range of initiatives to retain existing sales and add new customers -- from Rio’s development of a mobile app, to portside sales, and selling directly from China’s ports in yuan instead of shipping cargoes from Australia or Brazil that are sold in dollars.New Strategies“Our China portside customers will be able to order via a mobile app,” Rio’s Chief Commercial Officer Simon Trott told an investor seminar in October. “You can order a few tons of ore, in the same way you’d place an order on Amazon.”Rio has started portside sales, while BHP also has been testing “spot sales during transport to China as well as sales in smaller quantities with shorter lead times from bonded stockpiles in China,” Rod Dukino, vice president for sales and marketing iron ore, said at a conference in September.Selling at ports allows miners to blend different types of ore, and means “more money in the miners’ pockets,” according to UBS Group AG managing director and global head of mining, Glyn Lawcock. “We have seen over the last few years increasing sales to traders and now the miners are clawing back some of that lost margin essentially.”In particular, the use of the Chinese yuan is a breakthrough for an industry dominated by the dollar. For mills, this eliminates currency risks. For miners, this broadens their customer base and again cuts out the traders, said Lawcock.In June, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. set up a sales office in China, offering direct supply of smaller volumes in the yuan. “This represents a new sales channel for Fortescue to complement our existing seaborne trade,” Chief Executive Elizabeth Gaines said in an email.BHP sees “huge potential in the digitization of our post-trade processes across our portfolio, both for customers and suppliers alike, through increased visibility and traceability of goods” Dukino said in an email.Large and medium-sized steel mills in China generally support the miners’ new sales strategies, according to a survey by Bloomberg of five executives at mills and industry groups.“As producers get closer to a diverse range of end customers, they understand their needs more, to facilitate an evolution in interaction and even digitalization,” according to Andrew Glass, founder of Avatar Commodities Pte and formerly head of iron ore financial trading at Anglo American Plc.Still, launching new sales channels also has its risks, and companies need to be mitigating them at the same time as extending their supply chain, Glass warned.Tight RaceThe initiatives follow similar strategies adopted by Vale since 2015. The Brazilian miner, which is still grappling with the effects of a fatal dam disaster earlier this year, blends and sells from 16 ports in China. It also has a center in Malaysia, where ore can be stored and blended.In the first for a foreign miner, Vale signed a deal with a Chinese steel mill based on prices of iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange.While Vale has had a headstart in sales efforts, Rio is catching up, according to Kallanish’s Gutierrez. “Now that the port stock market is more developed, and the sales mechanisms are developed, then all the miners will need to compete in this area.”“The enhancement of having things like port stocks and port trade allows flexibility, and allows smaller parcel deliveries to customers,” Rio’s iron ore Chief Executive Officer Chris Salisbury said in a interview last week.\--With assistance from David Stringer, Winnie Zhu and Alfred Cang.To contact the reporter on this story: Krystal Chia in Singapore at kchia48@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Phoebe Sedgman at psedgman2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Violent Protests Shut Down Key Rio Tinto Mine in South Africa

    Violent Protests Shut Down Key Rio Tinto Mine in South Africa

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterViolent protests, often characterized by deadly shootings and barricades of burning tires, are making it harder for the world’s biggest mining companies to operate in South Africa.Rio Tinto Group shuttered its Richards Bay Minerals unit on Wednesday and paused a $463 million expansion project amid escalating violence in surrounding communities that led to an employee being shot and injured. The stoppage will further sap investor sentiment in a country where business confidence is near the lowest level in two decades.The freezing of the Zulti South project comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa battles to stimulate growth and retain the nation’s last investment-grade credit rating. South Africa’s economy contracted for a second quarter this year in the three months through September as farming, mining and factory output slumped.The decision to halt operations was preceded by weeks of community protests in the area around the mine, causing “on-and-off disruptions,” said RBM Managing Director Werner Duvenhage. The demonstrations aren’t related to the company, but endanger employees’ lives and require government intervention, he said.Losses will be “significant,” according to Duvenhage, who said he doesn’t know when RBM will resume operations.Community disruptions around mines are leading to huge losses for producers, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said in October. Many protests relate to the provision of municipal services and housing, while some communities also complain they get few benefits from mines, even as their lives are disrupted by relocations and pollution.Crime WaveSouth Africa has also been plagued by xenophobic attacks and violence against women. While Ramaphosa has made combating crime a top priority since taking office, the number of murders climbed to the highest level in at least a decade in the 12 months through March.Smelters at the site in the KwaZulu-Natal province are operating at a reduced level after an escalation of criminal activity directed at staff, London-based Rio said Wednesday in a statement.Rio shares were little changed in London trading.Output for 2019 is expected to be at the low end of a guidance range of 1.2 million to 1.4 million tons and Rio is contacting customers to minimize disruptions. RBM employs about 5,000 staff and contractors, and exports titanium dioxide slag, used to create ingredients for products including paint, plastics, sunscreen and toothpaste.“We have taken decisive action to stop operations to reduce the risk of serious harm to our team members,” Bold Baatar, Rio’s CEO for energy & minerals, said in the statement.To contact the reporters on this story: Felix Njini in Johannesburg at;David Stringer in Melbourne at dstringer3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at, Dylan Griffiths, Liezel HillFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.S. copper frenzy grows as Rio Tinto plans $1.5 billion Utah mine expansion

    U.S. copper frenzy grows as Rio Tinto plans $1.5 billion Utah mine expansion

    The move more than doubles the mining industry's recent investment in U.S. copper projects, as Tesla Inc and other automakers demand more of the red metal for electric vehicle motors and other components. The expansion project, which Rio said will generate "attractive returns" without elaborating, is set to get underway next year. Once seen as a laggard in the global mining industry, U.S. copper deposits have drawn more than $1.1 billion in recent investments from small and large miners alike before Rio's Tuesday announcement.

  • Canada's First Quantum may team-up with Rio Tinto to develop Peru copper mine

    Canada's First Quantum may team-up with Rio Tinto to develop Peru copper mine

    Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd is looking for strategic partners to develop new copper projects and a joint venture with Rio Tinto in Peru could be on the cards, First Quantum's chief executive officer said on Wednesday. "That is what we are going to explore and it just depends on what kind of partner we get," First Quantum CEO Philip Pascall said on the sidelines of a conference in London, referring to the company's plans to find strategic partners.

  • Rio Tinto Declares Force Majeure on Canadian Aluminum Sales

    Rio Tinto Declares Force Majeure on Canadian Aluminum Sales

    (Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group declared force majeure on its aluminum shipments from its Canadian operations as a result of backlogs created by a week-long rail strike.“The current situation constitutes an event of force majeure under the terms of the sales arrangements we have with you for aluminum sourced at our Canadian operations,” Rio Tinto said in a letter to customers seen by Bloomberg News. “Our ability to deliver under sales arrangements in accordance with volumes and schedules agreed to prior to the rail strike may be affected.”The week-long rail strike that began Nov. 19 at Canadian National Railway Co. halted shipments of metals, oil, grains and potash. Operations are expected to return to normal Wednesday after the union reached a tentative deal with the company.“Rio Tinto declared force majeure on contracts prior to Canadian National Railway confirming the strike was ending,” the company said in an email to Bloomberg News Tuesday. “We are working closely with customers to minimize any impacts as services resume.”The force majeure notice confirms the warning last week by supply-chain management and consulting company Mercury Resources that aluminum deliveries from Quebec into the U.S. will likely be delayed as the strike results in backlogs.Last week, the Union Pacific Corp., the largest freight rail provider in the U.S. West region, said it stopped accepting shipments into or from CN Railway’s Canada locations until CN operations return to normal.To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Deaux in New York at jdeaux@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at, Steven FrankFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Rio Spending $4 Billion on Iron Ore Pipeline Amid China Demand

    Rio Spending $4 Billion on Iron Ore Pipeline Amid China Demand

    (Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group lifted its spending on new iron ore projects in Australia to more than $4 billion with the approval of a replacement mine at a key hub, providing a further sign of the industry’s confidence in demand led by China.London-based Rio will invest $749 million to bring the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 project into production from 2021, according to a statement Wednesday. It will help extend the life of operations around the Tom Price mine, which began exporting in 1966.While the new project is aimed only at replacing output that’ll be lost from aging pits, Rio will have options to boost volumes from its $2.6 billion Koodaideri development, Chris Salisbury, iron ore chief executive officer, said in a phone interview. The Western Turner project was accounted for under capital expenditure guidance outlined last month, he said.Australia’s top miners continue to see potential to leverage low production costs and a dominant position in the seaborne trade to generate strong profits from iron ore, even as they forecast China’s steel output to reach a peak.Demand for ore is being supported by infrastructure projects in China launched earlier in 2019 and by ongoing property development, Salisbury said. There’s also been a more limited impact from the nation’s traditional winter output curbs on steel mills intended to limit pollution, he said.“We haven’t seen significant effects of those so far in the season,” Salisbury said. “We are pleased with the level of demand at the moment.”Rival BHP Group is spending about $3 billion on its South Flank mine and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. is investing more than $3 billion in two developments, including the Iron Bridge project that’ll add output of higher-quality materials. Rio last year approved the Koodaideri project and also $820 million of spending for its share of work to sustain output from the Robe River joint venture.The latest investment by Rio highlights “the ongoing commitment toward capital required to maintain existing” volumes and product quality in Australia’s Pilbara region, RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Hissey said in a note. Potential for an iron ore surplus from 2020 and the prospect of continued slowing in China’s economy mean RBC was cautious about the market over the medium and long term, he said.Rio forecasts its iron ore shipments to rise as much as 5% in 2020 and expects to have capacity to hit a long-standing target for annual cargoes of 360 million tons by 2022. Iron ore accounts for about 43% of its revenue.“Our iron ore business does continue to deliver industry leading margins,” Salisbury said. The investments are “a commitment to the importance of iron ore to the overall Rio portfolio,” he said.Rio’s investment in the Western Turner project will add a new crusher and a 13-kilometer (8-mile) long conveyor belt, trimming the need for road haulage and helping cut the mining hub’s greenhouse gas emissions, the producer said. The plan will also protect the future of the company’s flagship Pilbara Blend iron ore product. The investment means Rio’s approved spending on new iron ore projects is more than A$6 billion ($4 billion), according to Salisbury.To contact the reporter on this story: David Stringer in Melbourne at dstringer3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at, Keith Gosman, Jason RogersFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Here's Why I Think Rio Tinto Group (LON:RIO) Is An Interesting Stock
    Simply Wall St.

    Here's Why I Think Rio Tinto Group (LON:RIO) Is An Interesting Stock

    Some have more dollars than sense, they say, so even companies that have no revenue, no profit, and a record of...

  • Rio Tinto faces having to renegotiate terms of Mongolian copper project

    Rio Tinto faces having to renegotiate terms of Mongolian copper project

    Rio Tinto faces renegotiating the terms of an agreement underpinning its Mongolian copper mine project, after lawmakers on Thursday approved plans to revise the deal to make it more beneficial for Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi mine, Mongolia's biggest foreign investment project, has already been subject to delays and ballooning costs, leaving Mongolian lawmakers impatient for income, while Rio Tinto says it has invested billions. Rio Tinto-owned Turquoise Hill Resources has a 66% stake in the multi-billion-dollar project and the Mongolian state owns 34%, with investment terms agreed in 2015 in a deal known as the Dubai Agreement.

  • ALERT! A Market Crash Top Pick
    The Motley Fool

    ALERT! A Market Crash Top Pick

    Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corporation (TSX:LIF) owns a 15.10% equity interest in Iron Ore Company of Canada and receives a 7% gross overriding royalty on all iron ore products produced from the leased lands. Is this the best royalty company in North America?

  • Rio Tinto’s Giant Mongolia Project Dealt Another Blow

    Rio Tinto’s Giant Mongolia Project Dealt Another Blow

    (Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group has another headache to deal with in Mongolia, as the government looks set to lose a legal challenge to its agreement with the world’s second-biggest miner.Rio is building a giant underground copper mine, known as Oyu Tolgoi, in the country. Yet the project has been beset by delays, legal probes, cost overruns and government pressure.Rio said Tuesday that early reports suggest an administrative court has upheld claims by the Darkhan Mongol Nogoon Negdel non-governmental organization that Mongolia didn’t follow due process on the agreement that underpins its development of the asset.The group, which promotes ecological balance and economic independence, had disputed the Dubai agreement signed in 2015, as well as the authority of Mongolian government officials involved in the negotiations.It’s not yet clear what the implications will be. But with the court’s formal written ruling expected to be released in the coming weeks, it adds a fresh element of uncertainty to an already difficult project.“The Dubai agreement is not annulled by the court decision. However, this decision raises questions about due authorization and capacity of those who signed the Dubai agreement,” said lawyer Solongoo Bayarsaikhan, a managing partner of Avinex Partners LLP in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, who is not involved in the case. “We need to see the actual court decision.”Earlier this year, Rio warned that its flagship growth project could cost as much as $1.9 billion more than forecast and faces potential delays to full production of as long as two and a half years. The expansion of the mine has run into difficulties after potential stability risks were identified within the planned underground operation, and it could now cost as much as $7.2 billion.The overruns will mean Mongolia must wait longer before profits start flowing from the mine to the government.On top of the actual problems building the project, there have been numerous controversies in the country. A parliamentary working group recommended in April that Mongolia review the 2009 deal that launched construction and revoke a 2015 agreement allowing for an underground expansion to tap into most of its mineral wealth. The mine has also been at the center of tax disputes and a probe into allegations of corruption.Rio said that it “strongly refutes” any suggestion that its agreement is illegal.(Updates with lawyer comment in sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Biesheuvel in London at;Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar at tedwards100@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at, Liezel Hill, Dylan GriffithsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    BHP’s New Boss Shows Mining Is Still Nervous

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When times are good, focus on the top line and the bottom line will look after itself. When times are bad, you should do the reverse.That looks a lot like the strategy the world’s biggest miner, BHP Group, has followed over the years in appointing its chief executive officers. The question the resources sector should ask in looking at Thursday’s appointment of Mike Henry to succeed Andrew Mackenzie is whether his focus is the top line, or the bottom.Henry has spent the last three years as the operations chief for BHP’s Australian assets, where he’s focused on improving efficiency and bringing down costs — resolutely bottom-line work. The bulk of his experience, however, is in the top-line marketing side of the business — finding ways to get the best possible prices for the minerals BHP digs and pumps. That resume harks back to Mackenzie’s predecessor.With an upswing in prices for its key commodities of iron ore, coal and oil under way in 2007, BHP appointed Marius Kloppers, a South African veteran of its manganese business, to the chief executive role. Kloppers pushed hard to shift the pricing of first manganese, and then iron ore and coal, toward spot markets that more closely track supply and demand.That helped BHP and its competitors extract additional revenues from their customers as spot prices surged in the years before and after the 2008 financial crisis — but when the market started to turn six years later, the emphasis started to look misplaced. After the demand growth that had supported the capital spending boom of the Kloppers era started to ebb, BHP's operations looked bloated and wasteful.Mackenzie, with a background running petrochemicals for BP Plc and mines for Rio Tinto Group and BHP, was brought in as an operational wizard to fix the rot. He slimmed down the business, spun off the less attractive assets as South32 Ltd., and reduced expenditure to a level that could survive in the new, leaner environment.At first blush, Henry looks like a swing of the pendulum from Mackenzie’s operations focus back to Kloppers’ marketing background.He sold first coal, then energy and freight and petroleum for BHP before being appointed as Kloppers’ marketing president and then chief marketing officer in 2010. Only after Mackenzie took over the top job and Henry was entering the frame as a potential eventual successor was he shifted over to round out his experience on the operations side.There’s reason to think that a more bullish focus is finally due. The resources sector has never really climbed out of the slump it entered around 2014, but the S&P 500 breaks new records on a daily basis. Forecasters could be underestimating the potential of a strong economic rebound in 2020, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bloomberg’s indexes of energy and industrial metals are still at subdued levels, but the run-up in iron ore prices this year put Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.’s index of bulk materials such as iron and coal at its highest level since 2013. That should be good news for BHP, since its share price tends to track that benchmark closely.At the same time, it seems to have been as much Henry’s recent experience managing mines that’s recommended him for the top job. He’s been responsible for rolling out autonomous trucks at the Jimblebar iron ore mine in northwest Australia and for setting up operations centers in Perth and Brisbane to run the company’s iron and coal mines remotely. Costs of late have been sharply lower in both divisions, although those for Queensland coal are creeping back up.If anything, it’s a sign of how things have changed for the mining industry that even scions of the marketing business like Henry have turned into born-again operations experts. BHP still has Elliott Management Corp. hanging around as a major shareholder. While its activist campaign will have been quiet for almost two years by the time Henry assumes the top job in January, it remains a constraint on any chief executive in a bullish mood.More to the point, a stronger outlook for the U.S. economy isn’t the medicine that can revive BHP’s boom years. China still consumes about half of almost every major mined commodity and accounted for about 55% of BHP’s revenue last year — and all the evidence is that the economy there is slowing. BHP’s key commodities could be heading for an even rougher patch if China’s car market continues to crater and its still-buoyant conditions in real estate fall to more normal levels.Should that be the case, the pendulum won’t be swinging back from the bean-counters to the marketers. If anything, it will have further to go in the other direction.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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  • Is Rio Tinto Group's (LON:RIO) CEO Paid At A Competitive Rate?
    Simply Wall St.

    Is Rio Tinto Group's (LON:RIO) CEO Paid At A Competitive Rate?

    J-S Jacques has been the CEO of Rio Tinto Group (LON:RIO) since 2016. This analysis aims first to contrast CEO...

  • Rio Tinto says miners need to leverage technology as scrutiny of the industry rises

    Rio Tinto says miners need to leverage technology as scrutiny of the industry rises

    Mining companies should make more use of technology to respond to increasing demands from investors and communities for responsible mining practices, Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said on Monday. Technologies such as autonomous rail-cars and increased automation can lower the impact of the industry on the environment as well as raise profit margins, he said, adding that blockchain can be deployed to track if the supply chain met ethical standards. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind we will face greater regulation and scrutiny," Jacques said in a keynote speech marking the beginning of London Metal Exchange (LME) Week in London.


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  • Rio Tinto smelter closure risk rocks New Zealand's top power supplier

    Rio Tinto smelter closure risk rocks New Zealand's top power supplier

    Rio said it would make a decision on the smelter, New Zealand's largest single power user, in early 2020. "We expect the short to medium outlook for the aluminium industry to be challenging and this asset to continue to be unprofitable," Rio Tinto said in a statement.


    Premarket London: Antofagasta Sees Modest Hit From Chile Riots -- Here's a summary of regulatory news from the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday, 23rd October. Please refresh for updates.

  • Rio Tinto studying ways to produce lithium from waste rock at California mine

    Rio Tinto studying ways to produce lithium from waste rock at California mine

    The move by Rio comes as U.S. politicians and regulators push to expand domestic mining of so-called strategic minerals used to make EV batteries and other high-tech equipment. Rio has produced borates - a group of minerals used to make soaps, cosmetics and other consumer goods - for nearly a century in the Mojave Desert, about 120 miles (195 km) north of Los Angeles. Rio said it had been probing the tailings for gold and discovered lithium at a concentration higher than rival U.S. projects under development, although the company declined to give the exact percentage.