Rio Tinto is the first of the big diversified miners to report its annual production figures for 2013, which showed strong growth despite industry concerns of weakening Chinese demand for steel.
The Anglo-Australian mining giant produced 70.4 million tonnes of iron ore in the fourth quarter, a six percent increase on the same period in 2012. It comes at the same time that the company implements a series of cost cuts that has seen it reduce exploration costs alone by $1 billion.
“We have exceeded our cost cutting targets for the year and announced or completed $3.5bn of non-core asset sales,” said Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh. “These actions, together with lower capital expenditure in 2013 and beyond, will ensure that Rio Tinto is well positioned to deliver greater value to shareholders. At the same time we have set new records for iron ore production and shipments as we ramp up our 290Mt/y expansion, as well as achieving an impressive recovery in copper volumes and record annual volumes for both bauxite and thermal coal.
Elsewhere within the company mined copper volumes increased five percent in the fourth quarter to 172,800 tonnes compared to the same time a year ago. Mined copper benefited from the ramp up of production at Oyu Tolgoi to full capacity and continued improvement in grades and throughput at Kennecott in the US. It also recorded record annual production and shipments for bauxite, with production records at both its Australian mines, and in Guinea.