Rio Tinto : Scales Back Iron Ore, Coking Coal Guidance
By Robb M. Stewart
MELBOURNE, Australia--Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) scaled back its annual targets for Australian iron-ore shipments and steelmaking coking-coal production after operations were hit by rough weather early in the year.
The Anglo-Australian mining company said its share of output from its iron-ore mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia dipped 2% on a year earlier to 65 million metric tons and was down by a similar level for the first half of 2017 after being dented by bad weather in the first three months and rail maintenance in the second quarter.
That left overall shipments of iron ore from the mines down 3% for the half year at 154.3 million tons and prompted Rio Tinto to revise its guidance for the year to about 330 million tons from between 330 million and 340 million previously.
Rail maintenance is set to continue throughout the remainder of 2017, though at a lower level than in the second quarter, Rio Tinto said.
Second-quarter production of hard coking coal was down 14% on-year to 1.56 million tons and was 17% lower for the half year after the mines in eastern Australia were affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie, where access to a pit at the Hail Creek operation was restricted by excess water. Rio Tinto said it now expected coking coal output for the year to be between 7.2 million and 7.8 million tons, against a 7.8 million-8.4 million range previously.
Mined copper production for the second quarter was also lower, down 6% year-over-year at 124,700 tons, and down 21% for the first half at 208,900 tons, although the company said it continued to expect its share of output from operations would be 500,00-550,000 tons for 2017. Rio Tinto's jointly-owned Escondida copper operation in Chile was hit hard by a 43-day miners' strike, which led the company to reduce its annual mined output guidance in April.
Among Rio Tinto's other commodities, aluminum production for the second quarter was 1% lower on-year at 888,000 tons, but bauxite output was 7% higher at 12.87 million tons, and semi-soft and thermal coal production was 7% higher at 5.57 million tons.
Write to Robb M. Stewart at [email protected]