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Rio Tinto record results only maintain targets

Ores taken from Rio Tinto’s Australian mines have been used to prove the effectiveness of low-carbon iron-making processes in a pilot plant.

Rio Tinto has achieved record first quarter total material moved at its Pilbara iron ore operations in 2022, despite commissioning delays at Robe Valley and widespread labour shortages.

The major miner recorded a 9 per cent increase in waste movement year-on-year, as well as a 12 per increase in drill and blast volumes.

But this didn’t translate to increased production, as Pilbara iron ore shipments dropped 8 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2021 and by 15 per cent compared to the December quarter.

Rio chief executive Jakob Stausholm said annual production guidance had not been impacted as the company held out for first ore from the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

“Production in the first quarter was challenging as expected, re-emphasising a need to lift our operational performance,” he said.

“As we ramp up Gudai-Darri, our iron ore business will have greater production capacity and be better placed to produce additional tonnes of Pilbara Blend in the second half.”

Rio is still targeting total Pilbara iron ore shipments of 320–335 million tonnes in 2022, following the 322 million tonnes shipped in 2021.

The company shipped 71.5 million tonnes in the March quarter, while the Robe Valley iron ore operation undertakes scheduled wet plant commissioning.

This has seen the Mesa A mine operate at reduced capacity ahead of some component replacement in the September quarter.

In a more global context, the March quarter was a busy one for Rio Tinto, as the company began mining its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, completed the acquisition of the Rincon lithium project in Argentina, and signed a framework agreement at the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea.

Rio also took full ownership of Queensland Alumina and the Gladstone refinery, removing UC Rusal and any Russian interest from the business following a request by the Australian Government.

And an independent report on workplace culture was released with Rio Tinto implementing all 26 of the recommendations.

“These actions will ensure to continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders, as we invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, be a partner and employer of choice and progress out ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions,” Stausholm said.

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