Rio Tinto and Sinosteel Corporation have extended their Channar Mining joint venture (JV) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

It leads the way for a further 50Mt of iron ore to be produced under the JV.

The original Channar agreements for the production of 200Mt were signed in 1987, with strong Australian and Chinese Government support.

This marked an historic breakthrough as the first major Chinese foreign investment in the Australian mining industry, with first ore being produced in 1990.

The Channar JV (Rio Tinto share 60%, Sinosteel share 40%) owns the Channar mine, 60km south of Tom Price, which is managed by Rio Tinto.

The agreement provides Sinosteel with 100% take-off rights for Pilbara Blend product (into which Channar ore feeds).

At the current production rate of 10Mt/y, it is expected the 200 millionth tonne of the original joint venture will be produced in the first quarter 2012. The pair also agreed to cooperate for any developments close to the mine.