Rio Tinto keeps pushing iron ore production while copper falters

 
Caitlin Morrison
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MINING firm Rio Tinto reported a mixed bag of results for the fourth quarter of 2014, with iron ore production jumping by 12 per cent compared to the last three months of 2013, and other metals showing significant decline.

Copper production was down 23 per cent on the same period in 2013, while bauxite and aluminium declined by six per cent and one per cent respectively. However, copper production for the year was four per cent higher than in 2013, driven by a sustained ramp-up at Rio’s Oyu Tolgoi operation.

Meanwhile, hard coking coal production plummeted by 31 per cent in the last quarter of 2014, while semi-soft and thermal coal was down by 16 per cent. On a yearly basis hard coking coal fell by nine per cent and thermal coal dropped by six.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said: “We have had a successful year of production, capped off with a robust fourth quarter. Output is in line with our targets across all of our major products. In a challenging market Rio Tinto remains focused on operating and commercial excellence to leverage our low-cost position and maximise value for shareholders.”

Analysts at Numis noted that Rio was “still pumping out the tonnes” in its iron ore division, and said the firm was “clearly ascribing to the strategy of keeping the higher cost producers off the field by playing the volume game”.

The broker added: “In combination with cost reductions and optimisation, the added iron ore volumes will give a decent revenue boost, even at these prices, and more likely to pave the way for a return to shareholders.”

Shares in Rio Tinto were up by 1.03 per cent yesterday.

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