Pilbara expansion boosts Rio Tinto iron ore output

Pilbara expansion boosts Rio Tinto iron ore output

Machinery operates in a pit at Rio Tinto Group's West Angelas iron ore mine.

Giant miner Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) said second-quarter iron-ore production increased 11% in its fiscal first half, after expanding several vast mines in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, despite weak prices of the steelmaking ingredient.

The world’s second-largest mining company’s produced 139.5 million metric tons of iron ore in the six months through June, while its shipments rose 20% to 142.4 million tons.

"Our iron ore expansion continues to deliver high-margin growth reinforcing our position as a low cost producer," Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh said in a stock exchange filing.

The figures reaffirms the company’s deepening reliance on a commodity some investors believe will continue to tumble as global players are adding new supply too quickly.

The commodity has fallen from roughly $135 a tonne last year to below $90 a tonne last month, for the first time in nearly two years. And while the steel making material has recovered slightly since that low (it traded at $98 on Tuesday, according to data from The Steel Index Ltd), many are suffering the consequences.

Pilbara expansion boosts Rio Tinto iron ore output

Source: Index Mundi.

The company raised full-year copper forecast to 585,000 tons from 570,000 tons as output went up at its troubled Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia and at Kennecott Utah Copper in the U.S. Copper-mine output climbed to 164,800 tons in the quarter from 129,200 tons a year earlier, Rio said.

The company did not provided any update regarding the ongoing dispute with the Mongolian government over a $6.6 billion underground expansion of Oyu Tolgoi.

Copper prices were little changed at $7,129.75 a ton ($3.23 a pound) on the London Metal Exchange at 10:00 a.m. local time. It gained 5.6% in the second quarter.

Image from archives.