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Rio Tinto Q3 Iron Ore Shipments Down 5%

Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Plc (RTNTF,RIO,RIO.L, RTPPF) reported Pilbara iron ore shipments of 81.9 million tonnes (100 per cent basis) in the third quarter were five per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, due to planned maintenance cycles and safetypauses across all operations following the fatality.

Third quarter Pilbara iron ore production of 82.5 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 69.1 million tonnes) was three per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, due to planned maintenance cycles and safety pauses across all operations following the fatality at Paraburdoo operations.

Rio Tinto's Pilbara shipments in 2018 are expected to be at the upper end of the existing guidance range of 330 to 340 million tonnes, 100 per cent basis.

Bauxite production of 12.7 million tonnes was one per cent lower than the corresponding quarter of 2017, with strong production at Weipa offset by lower production at the non-managed Sangaredi and Porto Trombetas (MRN) mines. Third party shipments increased by two per cent to 8.4 million tonnes, reflecting firm demand.

Aluminium production of 0.9 million tonnes was one per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017 due primarily to ongoing labour disruptions at the non-managed Becancour smelter in Canada. Full year guidance has been revised to between 3.4 and 3.5 million tonnes (previously 3.5 to 3.7 million tonnes).

Mined copper production of 159.7 thousand tonnes was 32 per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017, primarily reflecting increased production from Rio Tinto Kennecott due to higher grades.

Production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was nine per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, however significantly higher than the previous quarter as operations ramped up to normal production rates following a labour dispute in the previous quarter.

At Argyle, carat production was 19 per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, when production was enhanced by the processing of higher grade alluvial tailings.

At Diavik, carats recovered in the third quarter of 2018 were nine per cent lower than the corresponding period in 2017 due to lower grades. The A21 project successfully mined first ore in March 2018 and is expected to reach commercial production during the fourth quarter of 2018. This fourth diamond pipe was officially opened on 20 August 2018.

Rio Tinto's expected share of bauxite production in 2018 has been revised to the upper end of the previous guidance range at between 50 and 51 million tones. It was previously expected to be in the range of 49 million tonnes to 51 million tonnes.

Aluminium guidance is revised to between 3.4 and 3.5 million tonnes (previously 3.5 to 3.7 million tonnes), to reflect the impact of the ongoing lock-out at the non-managed Becancour smelter. This excludes any potential adjustment from the completion of the sale of the Aluminium Dunkerque smelter.

Alumina production guidance remains unchanged at 8.0 to 8.2 million tonnes.

Rio Tinto's expected share of mined copper production for 2018 is expected to be at the upper end of the previously published range of 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.

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