Rio Tinto posts strong fourth quarter production results

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Rio Tinto has released its fourth quarter production results which showed it finished the year in line with guidance across all major products.

The company, which shipped a total of 330.1 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara assets in 2017, has dispatched 90.0 million tonnes in the fourth quarter, which represents an increase of 3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Rio Tinto’s bauxite production of 50.8 million tonnes was 6% higher than 2016 and in line with upwardly revised full year guidance, with Aluminium production of 3.6 million tonnes slightly offset by lower production at Boyne and Sohar.

Figures also revealed that Rio’s mined copper production of 478.1 thousand tonnes was 9% lower than 2016 (primarily to the impact of a 43 day strike at Escondida in the first quarter), while Titanium dioxide slag production of 1.3 million tonnes was 25% higher than 2016, reflecting increased market demand.

According to the company, the major growth projects remain on track.

“The Silvergrass iron ore mine was commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2017 and will continue to ramp up in 2018. 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,” the company said in a statement.

Regarding the impending sale of the Aluminium Dunkerque smelter in France for $500 million, Rio confirmed the transaction was expected to complete in the second quarter of 2018, subject to satisfactory completion of consultations with key stakeholders.

Commenting on the company’s performance in he the fourth quarter, Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said:

“The business performed well in the fourth quarter, and we finished the year in line with guidance across all major products,” he stated.

“We shipped 90 million tonnes of iron ore from our world-class Pilbara assets, a record quarter which demonstrates the system’s growing flexibility. In 2017 we announced over $8 billion of cash returns to shareholders and continued to reshape the portfolio.”

“Our focus on value over volume and mine-to-market productivity, along with disciplined allocation of cash, will ensure that we continue to deliver superior shareholder returns in the short, medium and the long term,” Mr J-S Jacques concluded.

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