Despite weak iron ore prices, global mining giant Rio Tinto intends to increase its iron ore production from 327.6 Mt in 2015 to about 350 Mt in 2016.
An increase in iron ore production is a trend for Rio Tinto which also increased production from 2014 to 2015 by 11%. This is according to the company’s fourth quarter production results.
Rio’s global iron ore shipments were in line with 2015 full year guidance of around 340 Mt (100% basis). The strong second half performance was achieved following completion of the brownfield developments and expanded infrastructure in the Pilbara, enabling a drawdown of inventories, as well as improvements at Iron Ore Company of Canada.
“Against a challenging market backdrop for the industry, Rio Tinto remains focused on operating and commercial excellence to leverage the low-cost position of our Tier 1 asset base. In 2015, we delivered efficient production, meeting our targets across all of our major products, while rigorously controlling our cost base. We will continue to focus on disciplined management of costs and capital to maximise cash flow generation throughout 2016,” says Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh.
Outside of iron ore, Rio Tinto continued its strong performance in bauxite, exceeding a full year guidance of Mt, with record third party shipments of 26.6 Mt.
Aluminium production was in line with 2014, with record annual production at nine smelters offsetting lower production from Kitimat as the modernised and expanded smelter was commissioned.
Mined copper production was in line with full year guidance of 510 000 t as de-weighting and de-watering activities at Kennecott resulted in lower production in 2015. This was partly offset by a 36% increase in production at Oyu Tolgoi from higher grades and throughput.
Production is expected to increase in 2016, with higher production at Kennecott and an expected share of joint venture production at Grasberg.
Rio Tinto’s share of hard coking and thermal coal production was in line with 2015 guidance, while semi-soft coking coal production was 7% above the top end of the guidance range due to mine sequencing.
Diamonds & Minerals continues to optimise production to align with market demand, reflected in a 25% reduction in titanium dioxide slag production compared to 2014, in line with guidance.