Rio Tinto gets control of Canadian uranium miner Hathor Exploration

Anglo Australian miner Rio Tinto today said it has been successful in its $654-million takeover bid for Canadian uranium miner Hathor Exploration and extended its offer by 10 days until 12 December to mop up the remaining outstanding shares.

Approximately 94,950,089 Hathor common shares representing 70.21 per cent of the shares have been tendered so far.

London-based Rio Tinto was able to gain control of Hathor after Cameco Corp, the world's largest uranium producer, early this week bowed out from the bidding war after Rio Tinto last week raised its offer to $654 million (See: Cameco exits from bidding war with Rio Tinto over uranium miner Hathor).

Both mining giants had been locked in a bidding war since the past two months and although armed with about $1.2-billion in cash and having credit facilities of $1.25-billion, with the potential to expand to $1.75-billion, Cameco may have given up looking at Rio Tinto's strong balance sheet.

The acquisition will give Rio Tinto, the world's fourth-largest uranium miner, uranium assets in the resource-rich Athabasca basin. Hathor's Roughrider uranium deposit holds around 58 million pounds of uranium, according to industry experts, and has the potential to produce at least 5 million pounds of the yellow metal a year.

Rio Tinto has uranium mines in Australia and Africa, but is seeking to gain a foothold in the Athabasca basin, where about 20 per cent of the world's uranium is produced.

Currently Saskatoon, Canada-based Cameco, which produces about 16 per cent of the world's uranium, and French nuclear giant Areva are the two dominant uranium miners in the Athabasca Basin.