Rio Tinto in China strife

RIO Tinto, the world&rsquo;s second-largest iron-ore producer led by Tom Albanese, has been accused of mass bribery by an official Chinese newspaper, as the row over arrested executives from the firm continues to mount.<br /><br />The state-owned China Daily paper said Rio has bribed all of China&rsquo;s 16 major steelmakers, and threatened to cut them out of supply of its iron ore entirely if they refuse to accept the bribes and provide it with inside industry information.<br /><br />Rio reiterated an earlier statement that it has acted with integrity.<br /><br />US commerce secretary Gary Locke yesterday called for more transparency over the arrest in China of four employees of the group on stealing state secrets and said he will raise the matter with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao at a Beijing meeting today.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Rio Tinto said yesterday its mined copper output fell one per cent in the second quarter of 2009 from a year earlier as continuing problems at its Escondida joint venture in Chile, the world&rsquo;s largest copper mine, were offset by rising output elsewhere.<br /><br />Albanese said: &ldquo;Markets remained tough in the second quarter. We continue to press ahead with actions to reduce costs across the board.&rdquo;