Rio Tinto and Sinosteel Corporation today announced their intention to advance discussions for a second extension to the Channar Mining iron ore joint venture in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Mining giant Rio Tinto and Sinosteel Corporation are advancing discussions for a second extension of the Channar Mining iron ore joint venture in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

The news follows the signing of a Heads of Agreement at Parliament House in Canberra by Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto's CEO, and Xu Siwei, president of Sinosteel Corporation. Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister.

The original Channar joint venture was signed in 1987 and extended in 2010. The 1987 signing resulted in the production of 200Mt of iron ore followed in 2010 by an additional 50Mt.

Walsh described the original JV as 'a groundbreaking partnership' adding that it was now 'one of China's longest running and most successful partnerships with Australia.' He called it a 'model for economic co-operation' between China and Australia and said that the new signing demonstrated the commitment by both companies to continue exploring opportunities that 'build on a mutually beneficial partnership'.

Sinosteel's Mr Xu said that his company was 'committed to developing broader and deeper co-operation with Rio Tinto'.

The Channar mine is located 60km south of Tom Price in the Pilbara region and is managed by Rio Tinto, which owns a 60% share in the joint venture. Sinosteel has a 40% share but also has 100% offtake rights to Channar joint venture production.

The timetable for reaching a mutually acceptable agreement for a second extension is before the end of the current extension term, which is expected to be during 2016.