Rio iron ore shipments up 3pc
Rio Tinto’s target for improved ore shipments in 2017 remains intact but softer-than-expected performances at several copper mines has clouded its outlook for that key business.
The mining giant shipped 327.6 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara operations in 2016, up 3 per cent from 2015, and hitting the mid-point of a guidance range that was lowered by Rio Tinto in October.
The world’s second largest iron ore exporter still expects shipments in 2017 to be between 330 million and 340 million tonnes.
“We have delivered a strong operational performance in 2016, underpinned by our drive for efficiency and maximising cash flow,” chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques said in a statement, adding that the company’s disciplined approach would continue in 2017.
The rise in shipments in 2016 was helped by minimal weather disruptions in the three months to December. Rio’s iron ore shipments in the December quarter were up 8 per cent from the preceding three months.
The company said sales in the December quarter exceeded production by 2.2 million tonnes, primarily through a drawdown on inventories built at the ports in the third quarter.
But Rio Tinto’s production report was clouded by a disappointing performance in its copper division.
Annual copper production rose 4 per cent from a year ago to 523,000 tonnes, but was well below the company’s guidance range of 535,000 to 565,000 tonnes.
Mr Hissey said iron ore is expected to record sequentially better earnings in 2017, given the average price improvement. The miner also topped production forecasts for bauxite and coking coal, while aluminium output jumped 10 per cent in 2016.
A bulk carrier leaving port full of iron ore.