Rio Tinto is spruiking “solid fourth quarter results”, in a bid to reassure shareholders after the doom and gloom announcement of a company-wide pay freeze last week.
Rio chief executive Sam Walsh focussed on cost cutting and financial discipline in his message to the market.
“Against a challenging market backdrop for the industry, Rio Tinto remains focused on operating and commercial excellence to leverage the low-cost position of our Tier 1 asset base,” he said.
“In 2015, we delivered efficient production, meeting our targets across all of our major products, while rigorously controlling our cost base.
“We will continue to focus on disciplined management of costs and capital to maximise cash flow generation throughout 2016.”
The quarterly report highlighted that full year guidance was met for iron ore, bauxite, aluminium production, coking and thermal coal, as well as the projected 25 per cent reduction in titanium dioxide slag production.
Global iron ore production in the fourth quarter 2015 was up 10 per cent year on year, and is expected to reach 350 million tonnes in 2016.
Semi-soft coking coal was seven per cent above the top end of the guidance range thanks to mine sequencing.
The Kennecott Copper Mine saw lower production from de-weighting and de-watering activities, however this was offset by a 36 per cent increase in production at the Oyu Tolgoi mine, heralding the return to co-operative relations between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government.
Last year Rio secured $US4.4 billion for the second phase of the expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper gold project, with head of copper and coal Jean Sebastian Jacques saying long terms fundamentals for copper were storng.
It is suggested the project will take another two months to finalise cost estimates for the project and partners, which includes the Mongolian government and Rio subsidiary Turquoise Hill.