Rio Tinto, Sinosteel extend Australian iron ore joint venture

Rio Tinto, Sinosteel extend Australian iron ore joint venture

Mining giant Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) and China's Sinosteel have inked a deal that extends a long-term iron ore joint venture in Australia's Pilbara region, which has provided about 250m tonnes of iron ore to date.

The two companies first signed the Channar Mining JV deal in 1987 to produce 200m tonnes of iron ore, extending it in 2010 for a further 50m tonnes. At the time it was one of the largest Chinese investments in the world as well as the first overseas mineral resource project entered into by a Chinese company.

Rio’s chief executive Sam Walsh noted the operation has become one of Beijing’s longest running and most successful partnerships with Canberra and “a model” for economic cooperation between the two countries.

“The signing demonstrates the commitment by Rio Tinto and Sinosteel to continue exploring opportunities that build on a mutually beneficial partnership that has developed over many years,” Walsh said in a statement.

Underlining the significance of the Sino-Australian project, both Chinese president Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott attended the signing.

Rio has a 60% stake in Channar mine, located about 60 km south of the mining town of Tom Price, and acts as the operating company. Sinosteel, in turn, has 100% off-take rights.

The two companies will have to reach mutually acceptable terms on the new extension before the previous one runs out in 2016.