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Rio Tinto releases first quarter production results

(Posted on 24/04/18)

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “We delivered a solid operational performance across most commodities in the first quarter of 2018. Our world-class Pilbara iron ore assets continue to demonstrate flexibility and the benefits of increased productivity, and production at our bauxite and copper assets was also higher. We announced $5bn of divestments in the quarter, highlighting our ongoing drive to strengthen the portfolio and raise return on assets. By continuing to advance our mine-to-market productivity programme, whilst maintaining our focus on the disciplined allocation of cash, we will continue to deliver superior returns to our shareholders.”

Bauxite production of 12.7m tonnes was 12 per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017, due to continued operational improvements. Third party shipments increased by 19 per cent to 8.2m tonnes due to firm demand and higher port availability.

Aluminium production of 800,000 tonnes was five per cent lower than the first quarter of 2017 due primarily to disruptions at the Becancour smelter in Canada.

Mined copper production of 139,300 tonnes was 65 per cent higher than the first quarter of 2017, as output recovered at Escondida following a labour union strike in the first half of last year.

Titanium dioxide slag production was 12 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2017 due to operational and labour disruptions at Richards Bay Minerals. Guidance has accordingly been revised to 1.1 to 1.3m tonnes (previously 1.2 to 1.4m tonnes).

Hard coking coal production of 1.1m tonnes was 30 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2017 due primarily to the longwall changeover and maintenance works at Kestrel.

The major growth projects remain on track. The Silvergrass iron ore mine continues to ramp up, Amrun is on schedule for first bauxite shipment in the first half of 2019 and construction of the first drawbell at Oyu Tolgoi Underground is expected in mid-2020.

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