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Rio Tinto and Sinosteel announce extension of historic Channar Mining Joint Venture


Rio Tinto Limited and Sinosteel Corporation today announced the extension of their Channar Mining joint venture (JV) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, leading the way for a further 50 million tonnes of iron ore to be produced under this ground-breaking joint venture.

The extension of the agreement was sealed at a special signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Senior executives from Rio Tinto and Sinosteel, Chinese Government officials and the Australian Ambassador to China attended the event.

The original Channar agreements for the production of 200 million tonnes were signed in 1987, with strong Australian and Chinese Government support. This marked an historic breakthrough as the first major Chinese foreign investment in the Australian mining industry, with first ore being produced in 1990.

Rio Tinto chief executive Iron ore and Australia, Sam Walsh described the achievement as the latest milestone in Rio Tinto’s long history of close ties with China, now its largest single market.

“Rio Tinto first sent a shipment of iron ore from the Pilbara to China in 1973, and the proven strength of a mutually rewarding partnership built on those early days has stood the test of time, as now reflected in this extension of the Channar agreement,” Mr Walsh said.

Huang Tianwen, President of Sinosteel Corporation, remarked that Sinosteel initiated the industrial cooperation between China and Australia through the Channar Mining Joint Venture, which, as one of the earliest and largest investments made by Chinese companies in Australia, has made major contributions to the marketing of Australian iron ore in China and the prosperity of the local economy.

Mr Huang said: “Channar iron ore enjoys a high reputation in the Chinese market. The long-term friendly cooperation between Sinosteel and Rio Tinto has become a model for Sino-Australian economic interaction and the signing of the Channar Mining Joint Venture Extension Agreement has significant meaning for the further development of Sino-Australian economic relations.”

The Channar JV (Rio Tinto share 60 per cent, Sinosteel share 40 per cent) owns the Channar mine, 60 kilometres south of Tom Price, which is managed by Rio Tinto. The agreement provides Sinosteel with 100 per cent take-off rights for Pilbara Blend product (into which Channar ore feeds).

At the current production rate of 10 million tonnes a year, it is expected the 200 millionth tonne of the original joint venture will be produced in the first quarter 2012.

Rio Tinto and Sinosteel also signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement for potential cooperation in, and joint development of, iron ore opportunities within or immediately surrounding the Channar mine.

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.


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