Rio Tinto announces Q2 Pilbara iron ore production 88.5Mt, up 14% from last year
Pilbara iron ore shipments of 88.5M tonnes in Q2 were 14% higher than the second quarter of 2017, benefiting from better weather and reflecting improved productivity across the system. Shipments in 2018 are expected to be at the upper end of the existing guidance range of 330 to 340M tonnes (100 per cent basis). Bauxite production of 13.3M tonnes was 3% higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017, due to continued operational improvements. Third party shipments increased by 10% to 8.7M tonnes due to firm demand. Aluminium production of 0.9M tonnes was 3% lower than the second quarter of 2017 due primarily to labour disruptions at the non-managed Becancour smelter in Canada and a power interruption at the Dunkerque smelter in France. Mined copper production of 156.8 thousand tonnes was 26% higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017, reflecting strong production at Escondida following a labour union strike in the first half of last year. Hard coking coal production was 40% higher than the corresponding quarter of 2017 due primarily to the impact of Cyclone Debbie last year. Titanium dioxide slag production was 27% lower than the second quarter of 2017. Production was suspended at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in Sorel-Tracy following a fatality on 26 April 2018. Production at Richards Bay Minerals has been impacted by ongoing labour disputes between contractors and their employees. Production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was significantly impacted in the second quarter, where operations were suspended while a new labour agreement was reached. Operations returned to normal production rates by the end of June 2018. Cost inflation is being experienced, particularly in the Aluminium group with higher raw material costs. Disruptions during the first half have also impacted unit costs at IOC and RBM. The major growth projects remain on track, with first bauxite shipment from Amrun expected in the first half of 2019 and construction of the first drawbell at Oyu Tolgoi Underground anticipated in mid-2020. The AutoHaul project achieved two major milestones, with regulatory approval on 18 May 2018 and the first loaded autonomous train journey from mine to port completed on 10 July 2018.