Nippon Steel Corp said on Wednesday that iron ore price talks between Nippon Steel and Australian miners for term contract prices for this business year are expected to be prolonged because of Australian miners' demand for a sharply higher price.

Rio Tinto wants to raise its share prices because of BHP's bid, so it is offering such a high price that steelmakers will be unable to accept it. I expect the price talks will be prolonged, a top Nippon Steel executive told a briefing.

BHP Billiton has made three-for-one hostile share offer for rival Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc

The world's top steel makers, including Nippon Steel, have already agreed with Brazilian company Vale to pay 65 percent more for its iron ore but have not reached agreement with Australian iron ore producers, which supply the bulk of iron ore for Japanese steelmills. Purchases from Vale account for roughly 30 percent of Nippon Steel's total. (Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Michael Watson)

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