Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) - Get Report shareholders have approved the $2.7 billion sale of coal mining assets in Australia to China's Yancoal Australia Ltd., Rio's preferred buyer and a unit of China's Yanzhou Coal Mining Co.

Rio said 97% of shareholders voted to accept the sale after meetings in both London and Australia, where the group has dual stock markets listings, were held this week.

The sale ends a bidding war between Yancoal and Glencore plc (GLNCY)  , the world's biggest commodity trader, which had increased its bid for the group's Australia-based coal assets to around $2.6 billion late last week. Rio, however, chose Yancoal as its preferred bidder on June 26, based on the group's plan to pay $2.45 billion in cash, a further $240 million in royalties and what Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis called "a faster and more certain timetable" to close the deal in the third quarter of this year.

"The revised offer from Yancoal of $2.69 billion offers compelling value to our shareholders for our Australian thermal coal assets," said CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques earlier this week. "This sale process has been in progress for a long period of time and we believe it is in the best interests of our shareholders to take the greater certainty of Yancoal's strong proposal."

Rio shares were marked 3.23% higher at 3,230.5 pence each in London immediately after the opening bell Thursday to notch a first half gain of around 2.3%.