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Rio Tinto, Minmetals to hunt for copper, zinc, lead via Chinese exploration JV

Rio Tinto will search for copper, zinc and lead deposits in four regions in China as part of its 50/50 exploration venture with China Minmetals Corp., Reuters reported Oct. 11, citing a Rio Tinto spokesperson.

Following a technical collaboration agreement in November 2017, the companies signed a formal agreement for the joint venture in June 2018. At the time, they did not give details on which minerals and regions they were targeting.

The joint venture will focus on exploring major mineral belts in the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and in the Yunnan and Heilongjiang provinces, the report said.

Rio Tinto is hoping that the Southern Gobi copper-gold belt in Mongolia, which hosts its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, extends into Inner Mongolia in China, a mining industry source told the newswire.

Rio Tinto will welcome additional exploration partnerships in the country, the report said, citing John Kilroe, the company's exploration director for Australasia.