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Rio Tinto Reaffirms Confidence In Outlook For Demand

MELBOURNE -(Dow Jones)- Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO), one of the world's largest mining companies, told investors Thursday that it is slightly more confident about the outlook for commodities demand. Chairman Jan du Plessis said short-term volatility is expected, but the company is well prepared to weather this. "Overall, we are somewhat more confident than six months ago," du Plessis told the company's annual shareholders meeting in Brisbane. "Over the longer term, we continue to believe the outlook remains strong, with demand for many of the products we produce expected to double over the next 20 years." The chairman said that while growth in China--the world's biggest consumer of steel, iron ore and a number of other commodities--has slowed, it remains favorable when compared with global economic growth. At the same time, there are promising signs of a recovery in the U.S. that has improved the global picture compared with half a year ago, he said. However, du Plessis said Europe remains a concern. "Whilst the European Central Bank has in recent months managed the sovereign debt crisis in Europe well, recent events have shown that the situation is clearly not resolved and the potential for contagion continues to linger," he told the meeting, which was webcast. -By Robb M. Stewart, Dow Jones Newswires; +61 3 9292 2094; robb.stewart@dowjones.com

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