Rio Tinto posts record-high iron output despite plunging commodities prices

Clara Guibourg
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Sam Walsh, chief executive, acknowledged that miners faced difficult conditions (Source: Getty)

Rio Tinto has shrugged off the woes of the continuing global commodities rout to post record high iron ore shipments in its fourth quarter results today.

Despite the rout, the world’s second-largest mining company is aiming to boost production further next year, setting a 2016 target for global iron ore production of around 350m tonnes.

The FTSE-listed miner reported an 11 per cent increase in iron ore shipments, which rose to 91.3m tonnes over the three-month period, unchanged against the third quarter. That put it in line for the firm to meet its 2015 full-year guidance of 340m tonnes, and put production up 12 per cent from 303m tonnes the year before.

Rio Tinto has chosen the same approach as many other global mining companies: ramping up production even as prices plunge.

Since 2013, iron ore prices, which the firm relies heavily on, have dropped by two thirds.

Don’t think the firm is unaffected by the sharply dropping commodity prices, however. Rio Tinto’s shares have been struggling, plunging over 40 per cent in the past year alone.

The miner announced last week it will freeze pay for all its staff, and Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, acknowledged the difficult conditions, saying the firm will “continue to focus on disciplined management of costs and capital to maximise cash flow generation throughout 2016”.

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