Rio Tinto and Chinalco have signed a contract to form a joint venture (JV) company to explore mineral deposits, including copper, coal, potash, in mainland China.

Rio Tinto will hold 49% interest and Chinalco will hold the remaining 51% interest in the new JV Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration.

Chinalco president Xiong Weiping said that by drawing on the respective strengths of both companies the JV could potentially create commodity supplies to benefit the global economy.

The JV will allow the companies to explore prospective areas in various parts of China.