THE EUROPEAN Commission has opened a formal investigation into state aid provided by the Spanish government for the restructuring of copper, gold and silver mining company Minas de Rio Tinto SAL, in Huelva.

In 2000, Madrid guaranteed loans of ESP 1,500 million, (Euro 9 million), which were linked to a restructuring plan to turn the company around. In January this year, the Spanish government announced that it intended to lend Rio Tinto ESP 1,000 million, (Euro 6 million).

Brussels approved the guarantee, but is now questioning ...

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