Rio boss upbeat despite drop in iron ore output

Suzie Neuwirth
RIO TINTO’S chief executive Sam Walsh yesterday stuck to his guns about the miner’s expansion plans, blaming a quarter-on-quarter fall in iron ore shipments and output on bad weather in Western Australia.

The FTSE 100 firm said that a tropical cyclone had closed its ports and coastal rail operations in late December and continued to hinder operations in January and February.

Shipments of iron ore, its key commodity, fell eight per cent compared to the previous quarter, while output fell six per cent.

But shipments and production rose 16 per cent and eight per cent respectively year-on-year.

“We are well on track to reach nameplate capacity of 290m tonnes by the end of the first half of 2014,” insisted Walsh.

The Anglo-Australian company has aggressively ramped up iron ore production, ignoring concerns of a growth slowdown in China, the world’s largest consumer of commodities. It plans to produce 360m tonnes of iron ore per year by the middle of 2015.

The company repeated its full-year production guidance across all commodities.

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