January 18, 2017 / 8:50 AM / in a year

Rio Tinto, Chinalco call it quits on joint exploration venture

BEIJING/SYDNEY, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto and Aluminium Corporation of China (Chinalco) have terminated an exploration joint venture after six years of searching unsuccessfully for copper in China, Chinalco confirmed on Wednesday.

Rio Tinto was not immediately available to comment.

The immediate priority of the partnership was to scour mainland China for copper - seen by Rio Tinto as its best growth option -- with coal and potash among other commodities also of joint interest.

A Chinalco media spokesman confirmed the joint venture, named Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration Co, was being disbanded, but did not provide further details. The breakup was first reported by Bloomberg.

Rio Tinto in October signed a preliminary deal to sell its stake in Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project to Chinalco, which is its largest shareholder, after unsuccessful efforts to build a mine.

A month later, Rio Tinto axed two of its top 10 executives amid a probe over $10.5 million in payments to a consultant who helped Rio Tinto secure development rights at the site.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and James Regan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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