19 Mar 2010

Rio Tinto, Chinalco ink massive iron ore deal

9:35 pm on 19 March 2010

The Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto says it has signed an agreement with China's state-owned metals group Chinalco to develop a massive iron ore project in West Africa.

Chinalco will pay $1.7 billion for 47% of the Simandou project in Guinea, the BBC reports.

According to the company, Simandou is one of the world's biggest undeveloped iron ore deposits.

The deal also covers rail and port infrastructure and could create tens of thousands of jobs in Guinea.

The tie-up comes just days ahead of the controversial trial of four Rio employees, accused of spying on China, which has strained

relations between China and Australia.

The accused men were working at the time on the annual iron ore price-setting round that would determine the price paid by China and other customers for the commodity for the year, an annual process that is now under way for this year.