SYDNEY (AP) -- Rio Tinto said Monday it is talking with Aluminum Corp. of China about the Chinese company buying minority stakes in some of its operations -- a move that could provide a big capital injection as the mining giant struggles to pay its debts.
Chinalco, as the Chinese company is known, already has a 12 percent stake in Rio Tinto and the deal under discussion could significantly raise Chinalco's share of the Anglo-Australian miner.
British newspapers on Sunday reported the discussions, without citing sources. The Sunday Times said a deal could be worth up to 6.1 billion pounds ($8.9 billion), and called it potentially one of China's biggest overseas investments outside the financial sector.
"Rio Tinto confirms that it has held discussions with Chinalco regarding Chinalco acquiring minority interests in various operating businesses of the Rio Tinto group and also investing in convertible instruments," Rio Tinto said in a statement released Monday to the Australian Securities Exchange.
"There can be no certainty that a transaction will ultimately take place and any possible transaction would be conditional upon approval by the shareholders of Rio Tinto and all necessary government and regulatory authorities," it said.
Rio Tinto's share price in Australia surged more than 6 percent after the announcement before slipping slightly to close at 44.45 Australian dollars on Monday.
Chinalco teamed up with U.S. aluminum maker Alcoa last year to buy a 12 percent stake in Rio Tinto's London-listed unit for about $14 billion, in a move seen as an attempt to block a takeover bid by rival BHP Billiton.
BHP Billiton canceled the $68 billion bid in November as the global financial turmoil made the company more cautious. BHP Billiton cited Rio Tinto's debt -- of about $40 billion and mostly associated with the Alcan purchase -- as a major risk.