Rio cracks iron ore records

Rio Tinto has reported record numbers for its global iron ore production and sales in 2009.

Strong Chinese demand has driven a significant jump in global iron ore production for Rio Tinto in the final quarter of 2009.

According to the company’s fourth quarter 2009 operations review, released yesterday, Rio’s global iron ore production was up 49% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008.

The company said it established a new quarterly record for global iron ore sales with 61 million tonnes, with its total global iron ore production for the whole of 2009 exceeding 217 million tonnes, which is a 13% increase on 2008 and also a new record.

Rio chief executive Tom Albanese was pleased with the positive results, but stressed caution as the industry continues to improve.

“We are seeing recovery across most of our key commodities, although we continue to be cautious on the state of the global economy going into 2010 as stimulus packages start to wind down,” he said in a statement.

The miner’s Australian iron ore production and sales for the quarter were also very positive.

Rio recorded 56 million tonnes of production in the Pilbara, a 54% increase over the fourth quarter of 2008.

“In the Pilbara we achieved record sales for both the quarter and the full year and both global and Pilbara production set new records in 2009,” Albanese said.

The company also announced a major increase in production of gold for 2009, exceeding 1.1 million ounces for the year, an increase of 141% above 2008.

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