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Rio Tinto third quarter 2012 operations review

Third quarter 2012 operations review

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Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese said “We have delivered another strong set of production results in the third quarter, including record quarterly Pilbara iron ore production. Copper, bauxite, alumina, and titanium dioxide production were all higher than in the same quarter of 2011.

“As we said at our Investor Seminar last week, markets remain volatile, but our business is resilient and our operations are performing strongly, reflecting our consistent strategy of running large, long-life, cost-competitive operations.”

• Record quarterly Pilbara iron ore production of 63 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 50 million tonnes), five per cent higher than the third quarter of 2011. Global iron ore production for the quarter totalled 67 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 53 million tonnes), five per cent higher than the third quarter of 2011. Production continued to exceed sales in preparation for the expansion to 283 Mt/a, with a measured build-up of stocks across the mines.

• Total mined copper production was 21 per cent higher than the third quarter of 2011, due to expected higher copper grades at Escondida and Kennecott Utah Copper and increased ore delivered at Escondida.

• Bauxite and alumina production were 13 per cent and 20 per cent higher than the third quarter of 2011, driven by increased third party demand for bauxite, expanded refining capacity at Yarwun and record production at Gove. First bauxite was processed at Yarwun 2 on 5 July 2012, and the Yarwun refinery was operating at 90% of its nameplate capacity of 3.4 million tonnes per annum in September. Aluminium production was ten per cent lower than the corresponding quarter in 2011, as ramp up to normal capacity continued following resolution of the Alma labour dispute.

• Thermal coal production increased 21 per cent compared with the third quarter of 2011, as Clermont continued its ramp-up and increased plant capacity came on line at Bengalla. Hard coking coal production was 13 per cent below the third quarter of 2011, due to the impact of dragline mechanical issues at Hail Creek and a major plant shutdown at Kestrel as part of the mine extension project.

• Titanium dioxide feedstock production increased five per cent from the corresponding period in 2011, following a successful furnace rebuild at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane and an increase in attributable volumes from Richards Bay Minerals (RBM). This followed the acquisition of BHP Billiton’s entire interest in RBM, which completed on 7 September 2012. The purchase price paid by Rio Tinto on completion of the acquisition was $1.7 billion.

• During the quarter, Rio Tinto completed the sale of several non-core businesses, including its Specialty Alumina division, the North American portion of its Alcan Cable business and Borax Argentina. Rio Tinto also agreed to sell its interest in the Zululand Anthracite Colliery in South Africa.

All currency figures in this report are US dollars, and comments refer to Rio Tinto’s share of production, unless otherwise stated.


About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and New York Stock Exchange listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, thermal and metallurgical coal, uranium, gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide and salt) and iron ore. Activities span the world and are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.

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Christopher Maitland
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