Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “Our iron ore business faced several challenges at the start of this year, particularly from tropical cyclones. As a result, and following the continuing assessment of damage at the port resulting from the cyclones and other minor disruptions, 2019 guidance for Pilbara shipments is reduced to between 333 and 343 million tonnes.
The quarterly operational performance in our other products was solid, generally higher than last year. Our focus remains on safety, delivering our ‘value over volume’ strategy and allocating capital with discipline, to continue delivering superior returns to our shareholders in the short, medium and long term.”
Rio Tinto Operational update
- Pilbara iron ore shipments of 69.1 million tonnes (100 per cent basis) in the first quarter were 14 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2018. Production was significantly impacted by the weather disruptions in March and a fire at Cape Lambert A in January. These events will have an impact on second quarter performance.
- 2019 guidance for Pilbara shipments has been revised to between 333 and 343 million tonnes (previously between 338 and 350 million tonnes, 100 per cent basis). The reduction reflects a slower ramp up and ongoing disruption to shipments caused by weather and other disruptions.
- Commissioning of the Amrun bauxite mine was completed in March 2019, with the project delivered under budget and ahead of schedule. Bauxite production of 12.8 million tonnes in the quarter was one per cent higher than the same period of 2018, despite several weather events throughout the quarter significantly impacting production at the Amrun, Weipa and Gove mines.
- Aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes was in line with the first quarter of 2018. Excluding the non-managed Becancour smelter, which was impacted by a lock-out, production was one per cent higher, reflecting continued productivity creep.
- First quarter mined copper production of 144 thousand tonnes was three per cent higher than the first quarter of 2018, with strong contributions from Oyu Tolgoi and Rio Tinto Kennecott.
- Titanium dioxide slag production of 296 thousand tonnes was one per cent higher than the first quarter of 2018.
- First quarter production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was five per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2018, despite adverse weather conditions impacting production in February.
- At the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project the review of the mine design and the development schedule is continuing. The commissioning of the main production shaft (Shaft 2) is now expected to complete in October 2019.
- On 27 February 2019, Rio Tinto announced it had discovered copper-gold mineralisation in the Paterson Province in the far east Pilbara region of Western Australia.
- On 8 April 2019, Rio Tinto announced the approval of the construction of the Zulti South project at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa for $463 million (Rio Tinto share $343 million).
- On 15 April 2019, Rio Tinto announced it had committed $302 million ($166 million Rio Tinto share) of additional expenditure to advance its Resolution Copper project in the US state of Arizona
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