Rio Tinto is studying six new Australian iron ore projects that could help it meet China’s increasing import demands.

Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh told Business Day that to align with major port expansions the company is studying six mine developments or expansions to increase iron ore capacity.

Last year China bought 70% of Rio Tinto’s exports of iron ore.

Walsh said the company is planning to expand its production to 330 million metric tons a year by 2011.

Companies in China spent more than $30bn buying up mines and oil deposits globally last year.

China is the largest iron ore buyer in the world.