BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining group, announced a doubling of its future iron sales to China, shipping an extra 12 million tons per year over the next 10 years from its Area C mine, near Newman in northwestern Australia. The deal, worth some US$3.2 billion, will supply four Chinese steel mills as part of a joint venture deal. BHP said the extra sales came amid continuing strong Chinese demand for iron ore, with total imports so far this year already passing last year's levels and on course to top 200 million tons for 2004 as a whole. In March BHP announced a US$9 billion deal to supply China with 12 million tons of ore annually over the next quarter century.
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