The European Commission today announced that it will investigate a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, two of the world’s three largest miners of iron ore.
The Commission said it was concerned that the companies’ plan to combine their efforts to mine iron ore in western Australia could affect the global market, in particular competition on the worldwide market for seaborne iron ore.
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A spokesperson for Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for competition, said that the Commission would deal with the case as a “high priority”, but did not indicate when the investigation might be completed.
“The duration of the investigation will depend on a number of factors including the level of co-operation from companies and how they invoke their rights of defence,” the spokesperson added.