Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto broke off talks with Beijing over the price of iron ore last Friday, Reuters reported. However, the firm denied the end of negotiations was related to the detention of four Rio negotiators in China, despite earlier reports that the company’s iron ore head, Sam Walsh, had told reporters that the talks had been suspended over this issue. "At this point in time we’re not negotiating … Remember we have our negotiators detained," he was quoted as saying. An unnamed mining company CEO said that, given that China is already paying a "provisional" price equivalent to the 33% discount already accepted by Japan and South Korea, the negotations are steadily becoming less relevant. Spot iron ore prices reached US$115 per metric ton in early August but have since declined by 25% over the last three weeks as Chinese steel demand weakens.