Chinese firm buys Rio's Australian copper mine

International mining giant Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) has sold its 80% share in NorthParkes copper mine in Australia to China Molybdenum (CMOC) for $820 million, the companies announced on Monday.

"NorthParkes is a successful business but is not of sufficient size to be a good fit with our strategy," Rio said in a statement.

This will become the Chinese firm's first copper asset if Rio's partners in the project, Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corp, waive their right to purchase the remaining shares themselves.

Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto CEO | Image from YouTube.

Reuters reports that the Japanese may be interested in buying more shares but are not likely to snatch up the full 80%.

The companies expect to seal the deal by the end of this year.

Following a $3 billion loss in February, Sam Walsh, Rio CEO, embarked on a purge, vowing to rid the company of non-core assets and cut more than $5 billion in costs.

Earlier this month the company sold its South African copper producer Palabora Mining to Chinese and South African firms. It also let go of its Eagle nickel project in the United States.

Rio is not the only big miner auctioning off its copper sites. Swiss-based Glencore Xstrata (LON:GLEN) recently put up its Las Bambas copper mine for sale. Here too Chinese companies are believed to be in the bidding.

Image from Rio Tinto interview posted on YouTube.