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Rio Tinto Releases Fourth Quarter Production Results

Mining News - Published on Fri, 17 Jan 2020

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Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “We finished the year with good momentum, particularly in our Pilbara iron ore operations and in bauxite, despite having experienced some operational challenges in 2019. We are increasing our investment, with $2.25 billion of high-return projects in iron ore and copper approved in the fourth quarter. We also boosted our exploration and evaluation expenditure to $624 million in 2019, further strengthening our pipeline of opportunities. We have the platform and performance to maintain our delivery of superior returns to shareholders over the short, medium and long-term, driven by our strong value over volume approach and ongoing disciplined allocation of capital.”

Operational update

Pilbara iron ore shipments of 327 million tonnes (100% basis) were 3% lower than 2018, primarily impacted by weather and operational challenges in the first half of 2019 and our active decision to protect the quality of the Pilbara Blend. In addition to direct sales from Australia, we commenced trials of portside trading in October 2019.

On 27 November 2019, we announced a $749 million investment in the Greater Tom Price operations (Western Turner Syncline Phase 2) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, to sustain production capacity.

Bauxite production of 55 million tonnes was 9% higher than 2018, underpinned by the successful ramp-up of the Amrun mine in Queensland, Australia. Third party shipments of 40 million tonnes were 21% higher than 2018.

Aluminium production of 3.2 million tonnes was 2% lower than 2018, primarily reflecting a preventive safety shutdown of one of the three pot-lines at ISAL in Iceland and earlier than planned pot relining at Kitimat in British Columbia, Canada in the second half.

Mined copper production of 577 thousand tonnes was 5% lower than 2018, reflecting lower copper grades, partially offset by higher throughput. Lower copper grades at Kennecott impacted the fourth quarter in particular: this is expected to persist until we access higher grades from the end of 2020, resulting from phase one of the south wall pushback project.

Titanium dioxide slag production of 1.2 million tonnes was 8% higher than 2018, reflecting continued operational improvement and the restart of furnaces in line with market conditions. Fourth quarter production was impacted by the curtailment of operations at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa, following an escalation in violence in the surrounding communities. A phased restart commenced at the end of December.

Production of pellets and concentrate at the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) was 18% higher than 2018, when strike action occurred. Fourth quarter production was 10% lower than the same quarter of 2018 due to unplanned equipment-related downtime.

HeadingUnitQ4 2019 vs Q4 2018 vs Q3 2019 2019vs 2018
Pilbara iron ore shipments (100% basis)Mt86.8-1%1%327.4-3%
Pilbara iron ore production (100% basis)Mt83.6-3%-4%326.7-3%
Mined copperkt138.7-9%-12%577.4-5%
Titanium dioxide slagkt286-3%-11%1,2068%
IOC iron ore pellets and concentrateMt2.6-10%-13%10.518%

2020 production guidance (Rio Tinto share, unless otherwise stated)
Heading2019 actual 2020 guidance
Pilbara iron ore (shipments, 100% basis)327.4 Mt330 to 343 Mt
Bauxite55.1Mt55 to 58 Mt
Alumina7.7 Mt7.8 to 8.2 Mt
Aluminium3.2 Mt3.1 to 3.3 Mt
Mined copper577 kt530 to 570 kt
Refined copper260 kt205 to 235 kt
Diamonds17 M carats12 to 14 M carats
Titanium dioxide slag1.2 Mt1.2 to 1.4 Mt
IOC pellets and concentrate10.5 Mt10.5 to 12.0 Mt
Boric oxide equivalent0.5 Mt~0.5 Mt

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 17 Jan 2020
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