Oz mining giant Rio Tinto to sell iron ore to India's Essar Steel

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Melbourne, Dec 15 (ANI): Marking a strategic sales breakthrough in the Asian market,

Rio Tinto, a multinational mining and resources group based in Australia and England, has agreed to sell iron ore to India for the first time.

"There will be a shipment arriving there (India) in December, so one is due to leave shortly," The Australian quoted Sam Walsh, CEO of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, as saying.

Walsh also informed that 160,000 tonnes of the cargo from Rio's Pilbara Blend Fines in Western Australia, is destined for Essar Steel, a large Indian steel maker.

The cargo will be loaded on the Genco Claudius ship at Dampier in late-December, for shipment to the Hazira port in Gujarat for unloading.

"This is only one shipment at this stage, but this is very significant in terms of forging a relationship with Essar, and potentially opening doors. We have long believed that India is a long-term market of great potential, and this development should be seen in that context," Walsh said.

"It is also potentially significant given our iron ore project in Orissa, which we expect will also be a source to supply the growing Indian market," he added.

According to reports, Essar has ordered for up to three million tonnes of iron ore from Rio Tinto, and the miner has agreed to see if the request can be met.

India, the world's third biggest producer of iron ore is facing a severe shortage of supplies from Orissa, where the Government has been taking action against illegal mining.

Orissa had produced 70 million tonnes of iron ore out of 222 million tonnes of the country's total production last year.

Walsh further said that the company has plans to launch iron ore production in Orissa, where it has a 51 per cent stake in a joint venture with the state-owned Orissa Mining.

"To me, this is a ground-breaking sale and I think it is a good signal for us and Western Australia-it is strategic for us," he said. (ANI)

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