Maintenance trims Rio Tinto’s iron ore exports

Repairs to its rail system and Cape Lambert ship loader hurt shipments at Aussie miner.

Rio Tinto has seen its third quarter iron ore shipments decline by 5% year-on-year to 80.9mt due to disruptions caused by maintenance work.

It said exports were reduced by repair work on its rail operation and the Cape Lambert ship loader and that its annual shipment guidance is revised to between 325 and 330mt for 2016.

However, the Australian mining giant said iron ore shipments for the year-to-date were up 3% to 239.9mt, according to figures released Thursday morning.

Rio Tinto said iron ore production at its Pilbara facility was up 2% year-on-year to 83.2mt and up 7% for the year-to-date at 243.9mt.

Elsewhere, quarterly production records at both its Weipa and Gove facilities led to nine month bauxite production of 35.6mt, 10% higher than a year ago.

“This production performance enabled the Group to ship 22 million tonnes to third parties in the first nine months of 2016, ten per cent above the same period of 2015,” the miner said.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said: “We have delivered strong quarterly production, underpinned by improving operational performance across our Tier 1 portfolio.

“Output from our iron ore and bauxite assets reflects the drive for productivity and operational excellence.”

Rio Tinto said 2017 production guidance remains at between 330 and 340mt, subject to final productivity and capital expenditure plans.

On Wednesday fellow mining giant BHP Billiton reported little or no growth in first quarter iron ore production with output remaining flat at 58mt.

However, BHP Billiton did give one of its most upbeat views on global conditions in years, saying markets look to be rebalancing.

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