Rio "committed to strengthening relationship with China": CEO

14:52, March 22, 2010      

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Tom Albanese, CEO of Rio Tinto Group, said on Monday at China Development Forum that the company remained committed to strengthening its relationship with China.

Albanese noted that China was currently the company's largest customer, as Rio provided the company with the mineral resources that underpinned its infrastructure growth and the metal-intensive needs of urban populations.

At the same time, Albanese noted that China provided the company with important products such as railcars that deliver iron-ore from mines to ports. "This year, the Chinese enterprise will supply some $400-million dollars in manufactured goods to Rio Tinto operations world wide," he added.

He also iterated the importance of the cooperation between Rio and Chalco. The establishment of the joint venture showed the two companies' optimism for China's economic development, he said, adding that Chalco still holds 9 percent of Rio Tinto.

In June 2009, Rio Tinto revoked its $19.5 billion financing agreement with Chalco and instead formed an alliance with BHP Billiton, marking the failure of China's largest overseas acquisition deal.

Albanese said that Rio aims to strengthen its partnership with Chine through a two-tiered approach. The first is to revolve around China's growing interest in acquiring resources abroad, as the country became a global player in resource development. With Rio's experience, he suggested that the company could assist in meeting this demand.

The second cooperation opportunity existed around China's search for mineral resources in its own backyard.

"In saying this, let me stress that I recognize China has considerable expertise in this area and that a lot of exploration work is being undertaken in China, and that new resources are being discovered there. However, I do believe that our long experience in exploring for and finding mineral resources around the world could usefully be brought to bear to supplement China's own efforts," Albanese said.

Regarding the trial of the four Rio Tinto staff which started earlier today, Albanese noted that although the issue was of "great concern" to the company, Rio would "respectfully await the outcome of the Chinese legal process".

Last July, four Rio Tinto employees, Stern Hu, an Australian citizen of Chinese origin and general manager of the company's Shanghai office in charge of the iron ore business in China, Liu Caikui, Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong, were detained on suspicion of bribery and stealing commercial secrets, during iron-ore pricing negotiations.

By People's Daily Online
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