Australia’s leading independent law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has advised Rio Tinto on the entry into a joint venture with respect to the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia with China Baowu Steel Group Co. Ltd (Baowu).

Rio Tinto (54%) and Baowu (46%) will invest US$2 billion to develop the mine. Construction is expected to begin in early 2023, with first production anticipated in 2025. 

Rio Tinto and Baowu have also agreed to enter into an iron ore sales agreement at market prices covering a total of up to 126.5 million tonnes of iron ore over approximately 13 years.

Corrs advised on all aspects of the transaction, with a multidisciplinary team drawing on expertise in energy and natural resources, mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, and projects, including partners Anthony Lepere, Clare Corke and James Morley.

Commenting on the matter, Corrs’ head of corporate Sandy Mak said: “We are pleased to have assisted Rio Tinto to achieve a significant milestone with Baowu and to commence the next phase of investment in its iron ore business.” 

The establishment of the joint venture is subject to satisfaction of various conditions precedent, including approvals from Rio Tinto shareholders, the Australian Government, Chinese Government regulatory agencies and the Western Australian Government, among others.