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Challenging second quarter reflected in Rio results

Rio Tinto has reported second quarter production results impacted by “challenging operational performance” across it portfolio.

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“We saw a challenging operational performance across our portfolio in the first half, while also investing in future growth at Richards Bay Minerals and Resolution,” stated Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto.


“Whilst we experienced operational and weather issues at our iron ore operations in Australia, pricing and market demand has remained robust.


“We remain focused on safely improving and optimising the performance and productivity of our assets in order to drive future cash flow. This, combined with our value over volume strategy and the disciplined allocation of capital, will continue to deliver superior returns to our shareholders in the short, medium and long term.”


The miner’s Pilbara iron ore shipments in the second quarter of FY 2019 (ending 30 June) totalled 85.4 Mt (100% basis), 3% lower than Q2 2018. Shipments were impacted in April due to recovery works following Tropical Cyclone Veronica.


Guidance for Pilbara shipments in 2019 was revised on 19 June to between 320 and 330 Mt, 100% basis (previously between 333 and 343 Mt) due to “mine operational challenges”. Unit cost guidance has been revised to US$14-15/t (previously US$13-14/t).


Lower iron ore production for Rio was the primary driver of a 2% reduction in copper equivalent production in the first half compared to the corresponding period of 2018.


Bauxite production of 13.4 Mt in the second quarter was 1% higher than the same period of 2018, while aluminium production of 0.8 Mt was in line with Q2 2018.


Mined copper production of 137,000t was 13% lower than Q2 2018, with lower production from Escondida and Kennecott reflective of lower grades.


Titanium dioxide slag production of 303,000t was 31% higher than Q2 2018, reflecting improved operational performance following operational challenges faced in the corresponding period of 2018, according to Rio Tinto.


Second quarter production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was significantly higher than the corresponding quarter of 2018, which was impacted by a labour strike. However, guidance for Rio Tinto’s share of iron ore pellets and concentrate production is revised to between 10.7 and 11.3 Mt (previously 11.3 to 12.3 Mt), due to adverse weather conditions in the first quarter and a flooding incident in June.


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