“We continue to see positive prospects for medium- to long-term iron ore demand driven by ongoing growth in Chinese consumption,” said Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Sam Walsh. "We continue to forecast that annual Chinese steel production will grow from its current level of around 700 million tonnes to around one billion tonnes a year out towards 2030. This demand growth is coupled with an increasingly challenged supply response, as several high-profile competitor projects have recently been either delayed or postponed.

"The investment we and our partners are making in Simandou takes us a step further towards the phased development and ramp up of a new world-class iron ore resource."