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Rio Tinto ‘s production results

(Posted on 24/10/18)

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “We have delivered consistent operational performance in the third quarter, highlighted by strong production from the Group’s copper assets. We made strong strategic progress with the full exit from coal, the announcement of the additional $3.2 billion of share buy-backs, and the signing of a binding conditional agreement to exit Grasberg for $3.5 billion. We continue to pursue all opportunities to improve productivity and drive enhanced cash flow generation. This, combined with the disciplined allocation of capital, will ensure we continue to deliver superior returns to our shareholders in the short, medium and long-term.”

Key points

On 15 August 2018, a truck operator was fatally injured at the Paraburdoo Iron Ore mine. An investigation is in progress.

On 9 July 2018, a serious incident occurred at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) mining operation, resulting in the fatality of a security contractor. The incident remains the subject of a police investigation.

Pilbara iron ore shipments of 81.9 million tonnes (100 per cent basis) in the third quarter were five per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, due to planned maintenance cycles and safety pauses across all operations following the fatality.

Bauxite production of 12.7 million tonnes was one per cent lower than the corresponding quarter of 2017, with strong production at Weipa offset by lower production at the non-managed Sangaredi and Porto Trombetas (MRN) mines. Third party shipments increased by two per cent to 8.4 million tonnes, reflecting firm demand.

Aluminium production of 0.9 million tonnes was one per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017 due primarily to ongoing labour disruptions at the non-managed Becancour smelter in Canada. Full year guidance has been revised to between 3.4 and 3.5 million tonnes (previously 3.5 to 3.7 million tonnes).

Mined copper production of 159.7 thousand tonnes was 32 per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017, primarily reflecting increased production from Rio Tinto Kennecott due to higher grades.

Titanium dioxide slag production was nine per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, but 28 per cent higher than the previous quarter as production at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane and RBM ramped up following disruptions in the second quarter.

Production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was nine per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, however significantly higher than the previous quarter as operations ramped up to normal production rates following a labour dispute in the previous quarter.

The major growth projects continue to progress. First bauxite shipment from Amrun is now expected in the fourth quarter of 2018 with full ramp-up in 2019. Following an annual re-forecast of the Oyu Tolgoi underground development schedule and costs, capital costs remain in line with the overall $5.3 billion budget and construction of the first draw bell is still expected in mid-2020. The preliminary re-forecast assessment indicates ground conditions and shaft sinking challenges that are ultimately expected to result in a revised ramp-up schedule to sustainable first production.

On 1 August 2018, Rio Tinto completed the sale of its remaining coal assets for $3.95 billion. This, along with the sale of the Winchester South development project in the first half of 2018, resulted in gross disposal proceeds of $4.15 billion.

On 20 September 2018, Rio Tinto subsequently announced the return to shareholders of the $3.2 billion post-tax coal disposal proceeds via an off-market buy-back tender in Rio Tinto Limited shares totalling $1.9 billion, and further on-market purchases of Rio Tinto plc shares of approximately $1.3 billion.

On 28 September 2018, Rio Tinto announced that it had signed a binding agreement to sell its entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia to PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Persero) (Inalum), Indonesia’s state mining company, for $3.5 billion. The transaction is subject to a number of conditions precedent being satisfied, including the receipt of regulatory approvals, with completion expected in the first half of 2019.

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