Rio Tinto in talks to extend Pilbara joint venture

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Mining giant will negotiate a possible extension of an iron-ore joint venture with the China Baowu Steel Group in Australia’s minerals-rich Pilbara region, the company announced on Wednesday.

An agreement was signed in Shanghai to “reinforce” the so-called Bao-HI joint venture, which controls the Eastern Ranges and Western Range mines and has delivered sales of more than 180 million tonnes of iron ore since it was created in 2002.

Iron ore bound for Port Hedland.

Iron ore bound for Port Hedland.Credit:Tony McDonough

“The signing of this agreement is a significant milestone in the partnership between Rio Tinto and Baowu that extends back more than four decades and was enhanced with the creation of the Bao-HI JV,” Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said.

“The success of this relationship has contributed to the growth of both our organisations over many years and is one which continues to develop and strengthen over time.”

China Baowu Steel Group Corporation, established in 2016, is the world’s second-largest steel company by capacity and is Rio Tinto’s largest Chinese customer.

Rio Tinto, which owns 54 per cent of the joint venture, told investors on Wednesday it had launched a pre-feasibility study in to the Western Range project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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