Rio Tinto 2017 iron ore exports up 1 percent, maintains 2018 guidance

Jan 16 (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto, on Tuesday reported a 1 percent rise in iron ore shipments for 2017 to 330.1 million tonnes, meeting its guidance.

The world's no. 2 miner of iron ore, a raw material in steelmaking, also stuck to a target of 330-340 million tonnes for this year, but cautioned the guidance was subject to weather constraints and partly reflected rail maintenance required in 2018.

In the middle of last year, the miner cut its 2017 iron ore guidance by 10 million from an earlier provided range of 330-340 million tonnes, stating bad weather and overhaul of its rail lines as a reason.

"The business performed well in the fourth quarter, and we finished the year in line with guidance across all major products," Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter shipments were up 3 percent to 90 million tonnes versus the same period a year ago and 5 percent against the previous quarter.

The last quarter is typically the strongest as miners aim to export as much as possible ahead of the first quarter, a high cyclone-risk period in Australia.

In other commodities, Rio Tinto stuck to its 2018 target to produce between 510,000 and 610,000 tonnes of mined copper and 225,000 tonnes to 265,000 tonnes of refined copper. Aluminium production will reach between 3.5 and 3.7 million tonnes.

On the year, however, Rio posted a 1 percent and 9 percent respective drop in aluminium and mined copper production.

The massive drop in mined copper production was a result of of a 43 day strike at its Escondida mine in Chile in the first quarter, the miner added.

(Reporting By Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet and Diane Craft)