Rio Tinto and Chinalco have agreed to establish an exploration joint venture (JV) in China.

The JV will explore mainland China for world-class mineral deposits and is expected to come into operation in the first half of next year.

It is intended that between three and five large area exploration projects will be selected for initial focus by the JV, with the potential for additional regions to be added at a later date.

Chinalco will hold a 51% interest in the JV while Rio Tinto will hold a 49% interest.

Rio Tinto will appoint the chief executive of the exploration JV, with the chairman of the five-member Board nominated by Chinalco.