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Rio Tinto to WA

MINING giant Rio Tinto held its annual general meeting in Perth for the first time on 27 May.

The company has to hold two annual general meetings each year – one in London and one in Australia.

The reason for the choice of Perth as a venue is partly due to the strong contributions Rio Tinto’s WA companies – Hamersley Iron, Dampier Salt and Argyle Diamonds – made to its earnings in 1998.

Hamersley Iron, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, has five mining operations at Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Marandoo, Brockman and Channar.

Iron ore accounted for 11 per cent of Rio Tinto’s sales revenue.

Although production in 1998 was down 5 per cent at 51.6 million tonnes, earnings were up 17 per cent to US$359 million.

Rio Tinto chief executive Leon Davis said the increased earning had been achieved by increasing productivity while reducing costs.

In 1998, after tax cost savings of US$251 million were achieved.

Dampier Salt, in which Rio Tinto has a 65 per cent stake, produced 4.6 million tonnes of industrial salt.

Its net earnings increased to US$19 million from US$17 million in the previous year.

Argyle Diamond’s earnings rose sharply in 1998 to US$53 million, compared with a much lower US$30 million in 1997.

The growth in diamond sales came despite a decrease in demand in Asia.

Strong demand in the US market for lower priced diamonds maintained revenue earnings.

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