LONDON (dpa-AFX) - Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Plc (RTNTF, RIO, RIO.L, RTPPF) reported that Pilbara iron ore shipments for the second quarter were 77.7 million tonnes, six per cent lower than the same quarter of 2016. Shipments were impacted by accelerated rail track maintenance. Pilbara iron ore production was 79.8 million tonnes, one per cent lower than last year.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said, 'Iron ore production was in line with last year, although iron ore shipments were impacted by an acceleration in our rail maintenance programme following poor weather in the first quarter. We believe our focus on capital discipline, maximising cash flow from operations, driving productivity and portfolio shaping will continue to support the delivery of strong cash generation and shareholder returns.'
The company noted that further rail maintenance will continue throughout the remainder of 2017, albeit at a lower level than in the second quarter. The expenditure, a portion of which is capital, is included within the Group's existing guidance.
Iron ore shipments guidance for 2017 is around 330 million tonnes, compared to prior outlook of 330 million tonnes to 340 million tonnes. The outlook takes into consideration first half production and further rail maintenance in the second half to improve track conditions.
Record quarterly bauxite production of 12.9 million tonnes was seven per cent higher than the corresponding quarter of 2016, driven by strong production at Weipa and Gove. Third party shipments of 8.0 million tonnes were achieved in the second quarter.
Quarterly aluminium production was oneper cent lower than the second quarter oflast year. Strong production was achieved across most smelters, offset by the production curtailment at the Boyne Island smelter in Australia due to high power prices in Queensland in the first half of 2017.
Rio Tinto's share of production in 2017 is unchanged at 48 million tonnes to 50 million tonnes of bauxite, 8.0 million tonnes to 8.2 million tonnes of alumina and 3.5 million tonnes to 3.7 million tonnes of aluminium.
Mined copper production recovered compared to the previous quarter, however was six per cent lower than the second quarter of 2016 as Escondida continued to ramp up following a labour strike.
In 2017, Rio Tinto's expected share of mined copper production remains unchanged at between 500 and 550 thousand tonnes. Refined copper production guidance also remains unchanged at 185 to 225thousand tonnes.
At Argyle, second quarter carat production was eight per cent lower than the second quarter of 2016 due to lower ore volumes processedfollowing wet weather and additional maintenance required in the second quarter of this year. At Diavik, carats recovered in the second quarter of 2017 were 18 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2016 due to both higher processed volumes and higher recovered grades.Development of the A21 pipe remains on schedule.
Diamond production guidance for 2017 remains unchanged at 19 to 24 million carats.
Titanium dioxide slag production increased by 34 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2016, reflecting higher market demand.
On 26 June 2017, Rio Tinto confirmed Yancoal Australia as its preferred buyer of Coal & Allied, after an improved offer from Yancoal of $2.69 billion. Rio Tinto shareholders have since approved the sale. The sale is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2017.
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