Rio Tinto reported it shipped 76.7 million metric tons (mt) of iron ore from the Pilbara in the first quarter. The 13% quarter-to-quarter decrease was attributed to cyclone activity. The company said sections of the rail network were affected by significant rainfall. Despite the disruptions, shipments were in line with the first quarter of 2016, and guidance for 2017 remains at 330 to 340 million mt, the company reported.
“Despite challenging weather conditions at our West Australian and Queensland operations, we delivered solid production in the first quarter of 2017,” J-S Jacques, chief executive, Rio Tinto, said. “We maintain our disciplined approach to capital management and maximizing cash flow, with a focus on managing costs and enhancing productivity across the business.”
The company’s first quarter copper production fell 37% from the same period last year due to a 43-day labor strike at the Escondida mine in northern Chile. This strike, combined with the curtailment of production at Grasberg in Indonesia, has led to a revised 2017 mined copper guidance of 500,000 to 550,000 mt, down from 525,000 to 665,000 mt.
During January, Rio Tinto announced it reached a binding agreement to sell Coal & Allied to Yancoal Australia. Yancoal reported the $2.45 billion deal was approved by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). The Australian-based Yancoal is controlled by a Chinese parent company.