Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has chosen Rio Tinto to carry out Ranger uranium mine rehabilitation in Australia’s Northern Territory after several delays and cost overruns.

Rio Tinto holds an 86.3% stake in ERA.

ERA ceased mining operations at the Ranger site in 2021, aiming to complete the site’s clean-up and restoration by 2026 at an estimated cost of around A$800m ($527.7m).

However, the company encountered several setbacks, leading to a revised cost projection of more than A$2.2bn and an extended completion timeline beyond 2028.

ERA CEO Brad Welsh said: “The ERA team has worked incredibly hard and made good progress rehabilitating Ranger. However, as the project moves into a new phase it will benefit from Rio Tinto’s global expertise in mine closure.

“We look forward to working with and supporting Rio Tinto on the safe and efficient delivery of this important project.”

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Under the new Management Services Agreement, Rio Tinto will oversee all aspects of the rehabilitation process including design, scoping and execution of closure projects.

The transition to Rio Tinto’s management is set to begin immediately and is expected to be completed within three months.

Rio Tinto intends to leverage the existing expertise and relationships within the ERA team to conclude necessary studies and carry out the rehabilitation work.

While Rio Tinto will handle the Ranger Rehabilitation Project, ERA will continue to manage other company affairs such as corporate matters, financial affairs, assets and governance, independently of the rehabilitation efforts.

Rio Tinto Australia CEO Kellie Parker said “With the signing of this agreement, we are pleased to be able to directly provide more closure and project delivery experience and know-how to this critical task.

“So far, ERA has made progress in key areas including water, tailings treatment and management and pit rehabilitation. We are aligned with ERA in wanting to build on this work using Rio Tinto’s expertise in closure projects and our commitment to strong stakeholder relationships.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Mirarr Traditional Owners and other stakeholders to complete the project.”

Meanwhile, last month, Rio Tinto allocated $350m for its Rincon lithium project in Argentina.