Rio Tinto and Chinalco have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a landmark exploration joint venture (JV) to explore mainland China for mineral deposits.

The JV will initially focus on five large area exploration projects, and will include additional regions at a later date.

Chinalco’s expertise and deep understanding of the Chinese environment will complement Rio Tinto’s application of world-leading technologies and experience in operating global mining projects, Rio Tinto said.

The joint venture is expected to come into operation in the first half of 2011.