SHANGHAI, May 6 -- The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has launched an anti-monopoly probe into BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto's plan to set up a joint venture, the 21st Business Herald reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source at the China Iron & Steel Association.
A source from the ministry who participated in the probe told the newspaper that the two giants had submitted an application at the beginning of this year asking for an investigation into their joint venture plan. The ministry is now investigating to find out if their bond would interfere with market competition.
The person said the two companies' joint venture plan was applicable to the Chinese anti-monopoly law as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were the world's second and third largest iron ore suppliers, holding about 80 percent of Australia's iron ore exports and 36 percent of the world's total iron ore. And China is the biggest importer of iron ore, the report said.
He said the ministry was facing pressure from the iron industry and other related industries because if the monopolized situation worsened, Chinese companies involved in the issue would lose more voices.