From: Reuters
Published March 11, 2008 08:27 PM

Rio Tinto chopper disappears in Peru, 10 missing

LIMA (Reuters) - A helicopter for mining giant Rio Tinto disappeared on Tuesday with 10 people aboard, the company said.

The helicopter, headed for Chiclayo, took off early Tuesday morning from the company's La Granja copper project, located 560 miles north of Lima in Cajamarca, carrying two pilots and eight passengers.

"Contact and communication has been lost with the Bell 412B helicopter that provides air transportation to the La Granja Project," the company said in the statement.

Rio Tinto started exploration drilling late in 2006 at La Granja, but has until 2009 to complete a feasibility study. The company took control of the project in January 2006 after previous owners BHP Billiton withdrew.

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After Chile, Peru is the world's second largest producer of copper.

(Reporting by Teresa Cespedes; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Terry Wade and Doina Chiacu)

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