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Rio notches up another iron ore record

Publishing Date
15 Jan 2013 2:48pm GMT
Mining Journal
Rio Tinto said it had set a new annual record for global iron ore production in 2012, but the miner reported mixed results for its coal and copper divisions.

The company said it achieved global iron ore production of 253Mt for 2012, which was 4% higher than its previous record of 245Mt in 2011.

Rio said it achieved the results despite severe weather conditions and a significant maintenance shutdown during the year.

Iron ore production totalled 239Mt solely from its Pilbara operations in Western Australia with the remainder coming from Canada.

Nameplate capacity at its Pilbara operations rose to 237Mt/y, from 225Mt/y at the start of 2012. The company said it achieved the increase in capacity through de-bottlenecking and productivity improvements.

Rio said its Pilbara expansion plans remained on track to reach 290Mt/y by the end of 2013 and 360Mt/y in 2015.

Rio reported mixed results for its coal division posting a 16% increase in thermal coal production but a 9% decrease in coking coal production, compared with 2011 results.

Coking coal production in Australia for the December quarter compared with the same time in 2011 was down 31% because of planned dragline maintenance at Hail Creek and a major preparation plant shutdown at Kestrel, Rio said.

It said total mined copper production for 2012 increased 6% compared with 2011, due to expected recovery in ore grades at Kennecott Utah Copper in the US and Escondida in Chile.

However, the company reported mined copper at Kennecott Utah dropped 16% year-on-year to 163,200t.

Rio said the first ore at its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia was processed through the concentrator on January 2, 2013, and first concentrate production is expected next month with commercial production to commence by June 2013.

Aluminium production for 2012 decreased 9%, to 2.1Mt, at Rio Tinto Alcan and dropped 11%, to 1.2Mt, at Pacific Aluminium, year-on-year.

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