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China driving world iron-ore growth

Rio Tinto PLC's iron ore chief executive, Mr Sam Walsh said that he expects China to remain a key driver of iron ore demand growth, despite recent signs the Chinese economy is slowing.

Mr Walsh in Perth said that "We believe there can be very little doubt about China's continuation as the prime driver of world growth for iron ore over the longer term.”

He said that Chinese economy is displaying signs of slowing, and the impact of western economy troubles will contribute to that.

Earlier this week China moved to cut its gross domestic product forecast to below 8% for the first time in several years.

Analysts have said the target's adjustment to 7.5% growth in 2012 and a five-year average goal of 7% may prompt a longer-term decline in China's demand growth for commodities, including iron ore.

Commenting on the revision, Mr Walsh said that "Most countries around the world would jump for joy if they could achieve 7.5% growth."

China is resilient, Mr Walsh said that as it is equipped to underline its growth with fiscal and monetary changes and has increasing rates of household and corporate savings.

He noted that the country's crude steel consumption is forecast around 1 billion metric tonnes by 2020, representing just under half of forecast world consumption.

Mr Walsh said that "China's central and western cities are following similar paths to their eastern counterparts, with populations shifting from rural to town and city areas.”

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