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    (From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
    By Patrick Barta in Bangkok and Sebastian Moffett in Tokyo
    In a boost for major mining companies, Brazil's Cia. Vale do Rio Doce won a 65%
    price increase for a key steelmaking ingredient from Japanese and South Korean producers.

    Rival Rio Tinto PLC suggested it might hold out for a bigger increase. Rio's
    stance could create uncertainty for customers who depend on iron ore to make steel, and
    it could lead to still higher steel costs for a variety of companies.
    The price increase shows the heft global mining companies enjoy amid a boom in
    commodity prices driven by fast global growth, particularly from China. It also shows the
    stakes behind the unsolicited, roughly $140 billion offer for Rio from BHP Billiton Ltd.
    Many steelmakers and their customers fear the combination could put too much of the
    globe's supplies of iron ore in the hands of one company. BHP argues the deal could
    help add more supplies to markets through operating efficiencies.
    BHP, Rio and the Brazilian company, known as Vale, supply more than 70% of the
    world's exported iron ore. Price increases are typically hammered out in private
    negotiations between one of them and a major steelmaker, and they serve as benchmarks for
    other suppliers and their customers, particularly Asian steelmakers. China's
    steelmakers have sought an active role of late, reflecting China's status as both
    the world's largest steel producer and consumer.
    Rio released a statement saying negotiations with its customers on 2008 ore prices
    "are continuing," which suggests the company intends to hold out for a higher
    price. Rio believes it deserves a premium for its iron ore because its mines, which are
    in Australia, are closer to Asia than are Vale's.
    "There's no doubt it's a seller's market," said Gerard Burg,
 
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