Rio Tinto is discussing an extension of the Bao-HI iron ore joint venture in Western Australia’s Pilbara region with partner China Baowu Group.
The JV focuses on the Eastern Ranges mine and Western Range project. It has delivered sales of more than 180 million tonnes since it was created in 2002.
Rio Tinto expects to complete a pre-feasibility study at the Western Range project by the end of 2019.
The partners have signed a heads of agreement in Shanghai, reinforcing the relationship between the two companies and their intention to discuss the JV extension.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury described the signing of the agreement as a significant milestone in the partnership with China Baowu, which extended back more than four decades.
“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,” Salisbury said.
The Bao-HI JV is 54 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, with China Baowu holding the remaining 46 per cent.
Rio Tinto’s first ever shipment to China in 1973 was delivered to the Shanghai No. 1 steel mill, now owned by China Baowu.