Rio recommended that shareholders approve Yancoal's improved offer of $2.69bn (£2.1bn) for its Coal & Allied (C&A) subsidiary, in a deal that comprises $2.45bn in cash and a further $240m in guaranteed royalty payments before the end of 2018.
Yancoal had been touted as Rio Tinto's preferred buyer since announcing its intentions in January, and eventually bested Glencore's offer of $2.68bn in a heated bidding war, which saw both companies overshoot analysts' valuations of $2bn.
In the end Rio shareholders voted overwhelming in favour of the Yancoal deal, with 97.2% of a just over one billion votes cast in favour of the deal, or 97% of shareholders of Rio Tinto's United Kingdom and Australian-listed arms.
Yancoal will now need to raise equity to fund its acquisition with the support of its Chinese state-owned parent company, Yankuang Group.
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"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".
Its latest offer for Rio's Coal & Allied business has trumped a revised $US2.675 billion cash bid from Glencore, which upped its initial $US2.45 billion approach following Rio's rejection.
"That's a good problem to have", du Plessis told Thursday's meeting of shareholders before they voted in favour of the deal.
Yancoal will now seek to complete the transaction as soon as possible and within the third quarter of 2017.
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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%.
Yancoal has already been given the green light by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, while the Glencore plan would be subject to regulatory approval.
Glencore had been seen as a natural owner given its existing coal operations in the Hunter Valley.
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