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Bauxite and aluminium businesses deliver stable Rio Tinto results

Bauxite and aluminium businesses deliver stable Rio Tinto results

(Posted on 18/04/24)

Bauxite production of 13.4 million tonnes was 11% higher than the first quarter of 2023 for Rio Tinto with continued improvement in operational stability at Weipa and Gove. Aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes was 5% higher than the first quarter of 2023. Kitimat is now back at full capacity.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said: “We have been deeply affected by the loss of four Diavik colleagues and two airline crew members in a plane crash in January. This tragedy has strengthened our resolve to never be complacent about safety.

“We delivered stable operating results in the first quarter, including improvements at our bauxite and aluminium businesses, as we navigated seasonal challenges across our global operations. Our full year guidance is unchanged across all our products. We remained focused on growth in energy-transition materials, with the ramp-up at Oyu Tolgoi underground, the first full quarter of recycled aluminium production from Matalco and further progress at Simandou, our high grade iron ore project in Guinea.

“Action to decarbonise our operations continues, with power purchase agreements signed marking a significant step towards a competitive renewable energy solution for our Gladstone operations - the single largest lever towards our 2030 emissions goal. We also joined with BHP and BlueScope to investigate the development of Australia’s first electric smelting furnace pilot plant, progressing our work on steel decarbonisation. We continue to pursue our long-term strategy, and have a clear pathway to deliver operational excellence, while investing in profitable growth and delivering attractive shareholder returns.”

Other Q1 2024 operational highlights include Pilbara production at 77.9 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 66.1 million tonnes) in the first quarter, 2% lower than the corresponding period of 2023. Compared to the first quarter in 2023, planned ore depletion, predominantly at Yandicoogina, was partially offset by productivity gains across other operations. The company continues to work on asset management and pit health, and expect further productivity gains over the remainder of the year. Shipments of 78.0 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 66.1 million tonnes) were 5% lower than the first quarter of 2023. Lower volumes were predominantly the result of weather disruption at the ports, leading to a lower stock draw-down compared to last year, as well as reduced production at the mines.

Mined copper production of 156 thousand tonnes (consolidated basis) was 7% higher than the first quarter of 2023. Kennecott mined copper production was 7% higher than the first quarter of 2023 but 32% lower than the previous quarter, primarily, due to unplanned conveyor downtime. The impacted conveyor is now fully operational again.

Escondida copper production was 7% higher than the first quarter of 2023 due to higher concentrator feed grade (0.92% in the first quarter of 2024 vs 0.78% in the corresponding period of 2023). Oyu Tolgoi mined copper production increased 8% from the first quarter of 2023 as the ramp-up in underground production continued in line with our long term plan, delivering a copper head grade of 1.67% (vs 1.36% in the first quarter of 2023) for the underground and an overall copper head grade of 0.55% (vs 0.49%).

Titanium dioxide slag production was 11% lower than the first quarter of 2023.

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