Rio Tinto-Chinalco copper JV gets Beijing's nod

Beijing has approved Anglo Australian mining giant Rio Tinto's joint venture with its largest shareholder, China's state-owned Chinalco, for exploring copper in the country.

Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration Co (CRTX), the joint venture, has obtained clearance for mineral exploration in China, according to Rio Tinto's Beijing office. Rio Tinto and Chinalco signed the official JV exploration agreement in June 2011.

Beijing-based Chinalco, China's top producer of aluminum, holds a controlling 51 per cent stake in the venture and Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest miner, holds the rest.

The JV will initially focus on exploring copper and later expand into coal and potash, Rio Tinto said in a statement yesterday.

''China is a vast country, rich in minerals and it has the geological pedigree to produce significant world-class deposits. Exploration work carried out over past decades is a rich source of data and experience on which to build,'' Rio Tinto's China head Ian Bauert said.

The tie-up will cement ties between the two companies after Rio Tinto, in June 2009, rejected Chinalco's $19.5 billion deal to double Chinalco's stake in the company to 18 per cent and later China arresting four Rio Tinto employees, including its China head, on bribery and commercial spying charges.