Chinalco and Rio Tinto will explore mainland China for world-class mineral deposits under a recently formalized joint venture (JV). The JV is subject to Chinese regulatory approvals and once established will operate under the name Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration Co. Ltd. (CRTX). Chinalco President Xiong Weiping and Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese executed the joint venture contract during a signing ceremony in Beijing on June 1, 2011. The immediate priority for CRTX will be copper exploration, with coal and potash among other commodities potentially considered at a later date.

“Access to natural resources is a critical component to many of the world’s leading economies. Drawing on the respective strengths of both companies, this exploration JV could potentially create commodity supplies to benefit the global economy,” Xiong said.

“The formalization of our exploration JV is an important milestone in the expanding relationship between Rio Tinto and China. Given that mainland China is highly prospective, the JV has the potential to create valuable opportunities for both partners,” Albanese said.

Both parties believe the JV is an excellent opportunity as it aligns with initiatives from the Ministry of Land and Resources that potentially allow selected explorers access to prospective areas in various parts of China.

CRTX combines business expertise from a leading Chinese company with leading-edge technologies and global mining and exploration experience from one of the world’s top miners. Chinalco will hold a 51% interest in the JV and Rio Tinto will hold a 49% interest. Chinalco will nominate three directors including the chairman plus the chief financial officer, deputy general manager and compliance supervisor. Rio Tinto will appoint two directors and the general manager, who will be responsible for day-to-day operations. It is expected the CRTX headquarters will be in Beijing.