Rio Tinto reports lower production

Rio Tinto has reported a drop in production in the last quarter, as a result of recent weather conditions affecting mines and ports.

“Our Australian coal, iron ore, uranium and alumina operations were affected by the extreme weather in the first quarter, but most are recovering and are benefiting from continued strong prices,” chief executive Tom Albanese said in a statement.

We have successfully gained control of Riversdale Mining Limited and plan to accelerate the development of these significant tier one coking coal assets.”

Operations in the Pilbara were hit particularly hard with three tropical cyclones and widespread flooding, and contributed to the 16 per cent dip in production in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Once the weather had brightened up enough to allow work to restart, Rio increased capacity of Pilbara iron ore operations to 225 million tonnes per annum, following the first bottlenecking project at the Dampier port.

“Mined copper was down 14 per cent on the first quarter of 2010, reflecting lower grades at Escondid and Grasberg,” the company said.

Alumina was down four per cent in 2010’s first quarter, due to the devastating weather in Queensland.
Severe monsoonal rains that led to the force majeure at four Queensland mines had a downward effect on production, with Australian hard coking coal down 12 per cent on the first quarter of 2010 and down 29 per cent on the fourth quarter.

Last quarter, Australian thermal coal remained consistent with the first quarter of 2010, with higher New South Wales production mitigating Queensland interruptions.

The mining giant has made some positive moves forward with investment and project extensions, including a $933 million investment to extend the life of the Marandoo iron ore mine by 16 years, keeping it in production until 2030

Rio also announced a $5 billion capital management programme in February, as well as approving $238 million to advance a feasibility study for extending the life of Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Mine in Salt Lake City and purchasing related long-lead time equipment.

Most recently, Rio announced its acquisition of Riversdale Mining Limited after it gained a 52.6 per cent interest in the company.


To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.