17/01/2020 - 09:54

Rio's iron ore drops after cyclone, fire

17/01/2020 - 09:54

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Rio Tinto has posted a 3 per cent drop in iron ore shipments in 2019 as the Anglo-Australian miner's operations faced disruptions due to cyclone and a fire at a port facility.

Rio's Tinto's iron ore shipments account for more than 60 per cent of its profit.

Rio Tinto has posted a 3 per cent drop in iron ore shipments in 2019 as the Anglo-Australian miner's operations faced disruptions due to cyclone and a fire at a port facility.

Iron ore shipped from the Pilbara in 2019 was 327.4 million tonnes, the company said, well within its forecast of 320mt to 330mt.

The company said it made up for the disruptions in the first half by way of higher iron ore production and shipments than a year earlier.

However, in the fourth quarter, shipments of the steel-making material dipped 1 per cent to 86.8mt.

The global miner has benefited from a jump in iron ore prices following a supply squeeze due to a fatal dam collapse in Brazil early last year.

But with global production now stabilising, the prices are off their highs.

The company expects iron ore shipments, which account for more than 60 per cent of its profit, to be between 330mt and 343mt in 2020.

Rio has been shipping out higher volumes of a lower grade, 60 per cent SP 10 product, as it struggles with operational bottlenecks at its new Koodaideri mine in Western Australia, from where it expects to produce ore in late 2021.

The London-based miner posted a 28 per cent jump in bauxite production in 2019, compared with the fourth quarter of 2018, and said it expected aluminium production to be between 3.1mt and 3.3mt in 2020.

It also set 2020 target of between 530,000 tonnes and 580,000t of mined copper.

Rio Tinto chief exectuive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said $2.25 billion of high-return projects in iron ore and copper were approved in the fourth quarter.

"We also boosted our exploration and evaluation expenditure to $624 million in 2019, further strengthening our pipeline of opportunities," Mr Jacques said.

Shares in the company were up 1.76 per cent at 12:45pm AEDT to trade at $105.22.

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