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Rio Tinto Q4 Iron Ore Shipments Up 3%

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Plc (RTNTF,RIO,RIO.L, RTPPF) reported that Pilbara iron ore shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017 increased three percent to 90.0 million tonnes, from the fourth quarter of 2016. Total shipments for 2017 of 330.1 million tonnes were in line with guidance.

Pilbara operations produced 329.8 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 271.3 million tonnes) in 2017. Fourth quarter production of 87.9 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 72.9 million tonnes) was three per cent higher than the fourth quarter of 2016, reflecting the implementation of productivity projects across most sites. This strong performance was achieved despite a planned two week shutdown at Hope Downs 4 in December 2017, in line with the focus on value over volume.

Bauxite production of 50.8 million tonnes in 2017 was six per cent higher than 2016, reflecting strong operational performances at Gove and Weipa. Production at Gove was 23 per cent higher than 2016, benefitting from the planned production ramp-up associated with de-bottlenecking of capacity, whilst production at Weipa was five per cent higher than 2016. Fourth quarter production of 13.8 million tonnes was 14 per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2016.

Aluminium production of 3.6 million tonnes in 2017 was one per cent lower than 2016. Strong operational performances were achieved across most sites, reflecting the implementation of productivity improvements across the business. This was offset by production curtailment at the Boyne smelter due to higher power prices in Queensland, and by lower production at the non-managed Sohar smelter due to a power interruption incident in the third quarter. Excluding these events, 2017 aluminium production was one per cent higher than 2016.

Mined copper production in 2017 was three per cent lower than 2016, with lower grades partially offset by higher mill throughput. Fourth quarter production was 23 per cent lower than the corresponding period of 2016 as mining entered an anticipated area of lower grade. Higher grade material is expected to be accessed in 2018.

Refined copper production in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than 2016 due to the shutdown of the smelter following the fatality in October 2017. The smelter resumed production in November 2017 and is expected to draw down the increase in concentrate inventory during the first half of 2018.

At Argyle, 2017 Diamond production was 23 per cent higher than 2016 due to the additional processing of higher grade alluvial tailings.

At Diavik, Diamond recovered in 2017 were 12 per cent higher than 2016 due to higher recovered grades. Development of the A21 pipe remains on schedule.

Rio Tinto's Pilbara shipments in 2018 are expected to be between 330 and 340 million tonnes (100 per cent basis). This is subject to market conditions and any weather constraints, and partly reflects continued For personal use only rail maintenance required in 2018.

Rio Tinto's share of production in 2018 is expected to be between 49 and 51 million tonnes of bauxite, 8.0 to 8.2 million tonnes of alumina and 3.5 to 3.7 million tonnes of aluminium.

Rio Tinto's expected share of mined copper production for 2018 is expected to be between 510 and 610 thousand tonnes. Refined copper production is expected to be between 225 to 265 thousand tonnes.

Diamond production guidance for 2018 is between 17 and 20 million carats.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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