Four Rio staff held in China

FOUR workers from Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining group, have been detained by Chinese authorities in Shanghai without explanation.<br /><br />The company said yesterday it is concerned about the arrest on Sunday of the Shanghai-based staff. So far it has not been able to speak to the three Chinese and one Australian passport holder. <br /><br />Rio Tinto last month angered China by spurning a $19.5bn (&pound;12.1bn) investment from Chinese state-owned metals group Chinalco in favour of a rights issue and iron-ore joint venture with BHP Billiton.<br /><br />The detention by China&rsquo;s public security bureau is highly unusual and comes as the company is locked in tough talks over iron ore prices.<br /><br />Rio Tinto is still in discussion with China&rsquo;s steel mills, which want more than the 33 per cent cut agreed with other Asian steel groups.<br /><br />Rio has not yet agreed iron ore contracts for 2009-10 and some Chinese media have accused the company of withholding iron ore from the spot market to drive up prices and undermine China&rsquo;s bargaining position.<br /><br />Rio Tinto said it &ldquo;intends to co-operate fully with any investigation the Chinese authorities may wish to undertake and has sought clarification on what has occurred&rdquo;.