BHP Billiton has completed the sale of its 37 per cent stake in Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) to rival Rio Tinto for $US1.91 billion ($A1.86 billion).

BHP Billiton said the sale of its share in the South African mineral sands miner and smelting operator ‘‘reflects the company’s commitment to a simpler, more scalable upstream portfolio.’’

Rio Tinto had already owned a 37 per cent stake in RBM and managed its operations and marketed its products.

BHP had triggered the sale in February when it exercised an option to sell its stake agreed during a 2009 restructuring of RBM.

‘‘Doubling our stake in this tier one asset further strengthens Rio Tinto’s titanium dioxide portfolio at a time when the long-term outlook remains robust,’’ said Rio Tinto Diamonds & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies.

In 2011, RBM had a 14 per cent share in global sales of titanium dioxide feedstock, according to Rio Tinto.
The mineral is used in products from sunscreens to food colourings.

AFP