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BHPchairman says talks with Rio are still on track

DON ARGUS, chairman at mining giant BHP Billiton, said yesterday the company&rsquo;s proposed iron ore tie-up with Rio Tinto was progressing and dismissed suggestions talks could fall apart.<br /><br />At the group&rsquo;s annual meeting in Australia he said he was optimistic&nbsp; because &ldquo;while we believe the global recovery will be sluggish, we also continue to believe there will be strong long-term demand for our products from the Asian region.&rdquo;<br /><br />Chief executive Marius Kloppers said that China has been the major, and sometimes the only, source of demand for commodities in 2009.&nbsp; <br /><br />&ldquo;We do believe that restocking in China is now essentially complete,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We are now seeing the usage rate climb as the first evidence that restocking in the major economies has commenced. <br /><br />&ldquo;However, the restocking in the US and Europe is progressing very cautiously,&rdquo; he added.