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Rio Tinto PLC Q3 copper production update

Metal News - Published on Wed, 17 Oct 2018

Image Source: Proactive Investors
Rio Tinto PLC announced that its Rio Tinto Kennecott mined copper production in the third quarter of 2018 was significantly higher than the third quarter of 2017 as mining activity continued in a higher grade area of the pit, coupled with productivity improvements and increased plant throughput. The production profile is expected to experience increased variation in grade as operations mine in lower levels of the pit, together with waste stripping related to the south wall pushback expansion. Anticipated south wall pushback grade increases beginning in late 2020 are expected to offset this impact over the longer term. Refined copper was one per cent higher than the corresponding period of 2017, and 33 per cent above the second quarter of 2018 as better mine grades improved concentrate quality and smelting throughput.

Rio Tinto Kennecott continues to toll and purchase third party concentrate to optimise smelter utilisation, with 6.3 thousand tonnes of concentrate received for processing in the third quarter of 2018. Purchased and tolled copper concentrate are excluded from reported production figures.

The pushback of the south wall progressed during the quarter. It will extend the life of mine and remains on track for completion in 2020.

Third quarter mined copper production at Escondida was six per cent higher than the same period of 2017, reflecting the ramp-up of Escondida production to nameplate capacity following commissioning of the Los Colorados concentrator, which occurred in the second half of 2017.

Oyu Tolgoi
Mined copper production from the open pit in the third quarter of 2018 was seven per cent higher than the corresponding period of 2017, with higher grades partly offset by lower plant throughput due to the processing of harder ore.

Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project
The project workforce reached 8,800 at the end of September, with an 89 per cent participation rate of Mongolian nationals. A ground breaking ceremony was held at site to mark the commencement of shaft three and shaft four earthworks. Work continues on shaft two equipping and on the conveyor to surface decline.

Following an annual re-forecast of the underground development schedule and costs, capital costs remain in line with the overall $5.3 billion budget and construction of the first draw bell is still expected in mid-2020. The preliminary re-forecast assessment indicates ground conditions and shaft sinking challenges that are ultimately expected to result in a revised ramp-up schedule to sustainable first production.

In February 2018, the Southern Region Power Sector Co-operation Agreement under which Oyu Tolgoi was committed to working with the Government of Mongolia on a Tavan Tolgoi Independent Power Provider project was cancelled. As a result the Government of Mongolia expects Oyu Tolgoi to deliver a domestic power source for the operation within four years (by February 2022).

Oyu Tolgoi is progressing studies and preparations for suitable power solutions and continues to discuss the provision of domestic power with the Government of Mongolia.

On 15 October 2018, a loader caught fire while operating in the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine. All employees working underground at the time were evacuated safely.

On 28 September 2018, Rio Tinto signed a binding agreement to sell its entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia to PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Persero) (Inalum), Indonesia’s state mining company, for $3.5 billion. Separately, Inalum signed a binding agreement with Freeport-McMoRan Inc in relation to the future ownership and operation of the Grasberg mine.

The transaction and the Inalum/FCX transaction (which are inter-conditional) are each subject to a number of conditions precedent being satisfied, including the receipt of regulatory approvals. Subject to these conditions being met, completion of both transactions is expected to occur in the first half of 2019.

The proceeds of the sale are to be paid in cash to Rio Tinto at closing, with the funds to be used for general corporate purposes.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Wed, 17 Oct 2018
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