Rio Tinto says it will sell its first iron ore to India with a 160,000t shipment expected to arrive in India this month.

In late December the cargo will be loaded onto the Genco Claudius ship at Dampier, for shipment to western India’s Hazira port for unloading purposes, according to

Rio Tinto Iron Ore CE Sam Walsh said the iron ore shipment will be sent to India’s Essar Steel from Rio’s Western Australian Pilbara Blend Fines operations.

“This is only one shipment at this stage, but this is very significant in terms of forging a relationship with Essar and potentially opening doors,” Walsh said.

“We have long believed that India is a long-term market of great potential, and this development should be seen in that context. It is also potentially significant given our iron ore project in Orissa, which we expect will also be a source to supply the growing Indian market.”

The cargo is priced as per the international spot rate.