4 Jun 2011

WA deal concluded by Rio Tinto

5:50 am on 4 June 2011

Rio Tinto's expansion plans have been boosted by the company securing a major land deal with Aboriginal councils in Western Australia.

Under the deal, Rio will pay almost $US2 billion over 40 years in return for access to the land.

Rio Tinto is the world's second-biggest miner of iron ore. The BBC reports it has been looking to expand its operations and increase its iron ore production in Australia by 50%.

The group said that it has signed deals with five aboriginal councils, giving it access to almost 70,000 square km of land to explore for iron ore and other minerals.

It said native communities stood to gain substantially from the deal.

According to the deal, Rio will ensure that 14% of its workers are Aboriginals and also 14% of its contracts will go to Aboriginal businesses.

Analyst David Lenox of Fat Prophets said the fact that Rio had negotiated terms with five councils covering such a big land area, had taken away a lot of hassles from the company.