In its second quarter operations review, Rio Tinto showed a quarter-to-quarter improvement in most segments. “Operations largely recovered from the severe weather impacts earlier this year, although some port and rail constraints remained,” said Tom Albanese, CEO, Rio Tinto. “This quarter was also characterized by continued strong prices for most of our metals and minerals, but with worsening adverse exchange rates and some input cost pressures. Our growth program was boosted by the successful $4 billion acquisition of Riversdale, giving us further options to develop our tier one assets.”
The company reported global iron ore production of 49 million metric tons (mt) attributable (62 million mt on a 100% basis), which was up 12% on the second quarter of 2010 and up 17% on the first quarter of 2011. Iron ore shipments for the first half were 110 million mt (100% basis) from Australian and Canadian operations, which was 6 million mt lower than 2010’s first half following several cyclones, widespread flooding and a subsequent train derailment in the first quarter of 2011 in Western Australia.
Copper production was down 24% during the second quarter of 2010, primarily reflecting lower grades at Escondida and Kennecott Utah Copper.
Bauxite and alumina production improved by 8% and 6% on the rain-impacted first quarter as Queensland operations recovered. Bauxite production was up 11% compared with the same quarter of 2010 while alumina and aluminum production were flat.
The coal operations in Queensland have steadily recovered from the severe rains of the first quarter. Hail Creek was the last Rio Tinto mine to lift force majeure during May. Australian hard coking coal production was 9% higher than the first quarter but was down 26% on the second quarter of 2010 due to the heavy rains. Australian thermal coal production was 18% higher than the first quarter and 5% higher than the second quarter of 2010.