Rio Tinto is not concerned about China’s plans to centralize iron ore purchases and has strong ties with its customers, the Australia Chief Executive Officer for the global miner said on Friday.
Kellie Parker’s comments were in response to questions from the media about China Mineral Resources Group, a state-owned agency registered last month to centralize the import of raw materials required by its steelmaking industry.
The plans are aimed at gaining more clout with suppliers like Rio, BHP Group, Fortescue Metals Group, Vale and others over pricing.
“How the Chinese are organising themselves – they want some certainty about price and around what does that look like for them. And they’re very exposed to that price. So they’re organising themselves,” Parker told reporters after speaking at the Melbourne Mining Club.
“Of course the short-term price hurts them, so they want some certainty – as we want on our input products as well. So not concerned, but certainly working with them,” she said.
Parker said the company has good relationships with its customers and shareholders in China.
“We’d certainly like to meet them face to face when borders come down,” she added.
China is exposed to international iron ore prices as it must import nearly 80% of its annual consumption, a big share of it coming from Australia.
But a diplomatic spat between Australia and China over the pandemic has hurt relations, and increased Beijing’s concerns over resource security. The tensions have since eased, according to media reports.
“I think the other thing we have very much noticed in business is the thawing of the relationship between the two countries,” Parker said.
She said it was up to the two governments to work on those ties.
“But we are very appreciative of that thawing relationship so we can find new ways to work together,” she added.
(By Sonali Paul and Praveen Menon; Editing by Christopher Cushing)