Australian regulator once again delays review of BHP-Rio iron ore JV

The Australian anti-trust regulator has once again delayed giving a clearance to the proposed iron ore joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto that could potentially create the single biggest iron ore exporter in the world.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) yesterday delayed making a decision to allow both miners to give additional material to the ACCC and discuss the issue with overseas regulators.

The ACCC, which had launched the review in December 2009, had earlier suspended its timeline to review the joint venture proposal since 7 July 2010 at the request of both miners, to allow them to provide additional submissions.

In June 2009, BHP and Rio had formed a joint venture to develop their Western Australia's Pilbara mines, thereby creating the single biggest iron ore exporter in the world. (See: Rio-BHP team up for mining venture) 

The proposed joint venture brings together all of Rio's 200 million tonnes a year and BHP's 130 million tonnes a year iron ore resources in the Pilbara region worth an estimated $116 billion.

Both the Anglo Australian miners said that the joint venture would help save approximately $10-billion annually through combining their mines, rail, ports and workforces.