Davis Index: Market Intelligence for the Global Metals and Recycled Materials Markets

Mining giant Rio Tinto reported its Q2 and H1 results ending June  while revising its production guidance for copper downwards. Iron ore and bauxite and aluminium is guided sideways for 2020.


Production guidance, however, remains unchanged from its Q1 operational reviews. Q2 failed to influence the production guidance, and the company will adjust production according to market demand in 2020. Much will depend on government-imposed restrictions amid COVID-19 related disruptions..

Production Guidance2020 (E)Actual Output 2019
Aluminium (mn mt)3.1 to 3.33.2
Bauxite (mn mt)55 to 5855
Copper (kt)475 to 520577
Pilbara Iron Ore (mn mt)324 to 334327


COVID-19 has caused supply chain issues which are being managed by the company to overcome the various difficulties. 

Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, one of Rio’s copper-gold mine is continuing work despite Mongolia’s restrictions on international travels to manage COVID-19 transmissions. The shafts 3 and 4 are put on care and maintenance; there will be no effective progress for the present quarter. The unit is currently working at 40pc of the planned rates. 


Kennecott copper mine is on track to produce high grades expected in 2021 despite effects of earthquake in Q1. 

The Winu project, a copper and gold system in Western Australia, experienced certain difficulties due to movement restriction in the region which, however, is beginning to ease this quarter. 



Rio Tinto Production Q2 2020Q2 2019Pc Change (YoY)Q1 2020Pc Change (QoQ)
Aluminium (‘000 mt)785803-2%7830%
Bauxite  (‘000 mt)14,56013,4079%138135%
Copper  (‘000 mt)132.8136.9-3%1330%
Iron Ore  (‘000 mt)71,689681415%66,7877%



Production of aluminium in Q2 slid by 2pc from the prior year quarter to 785,000mt and remained flat from the prior quarter primarily due to pot relining at Kitimat in Canada, and the company’s Iceland smelter, ISAL, running at 85pc capacity. Also, the curtailment of the fourth pot line at New Zealand Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) in April on COVID-19 impacts affected aluminium production. 

On global front, the company declared to shut its Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) on July 9 as the business was no longer viable. 



Bauxite production climbed by 9pc from Q2 2019 and by 5pc from Q1 as it was reported at 14.56mn mt. This is a result of progress on the ramp-up expansions.



Total copper production fell by 3pc in Q2 at 132,800mt as Kennecott mine production fell by 11pc in Q2 from 2019 due to pit sequencing and lower copper grades. Grades at the mine will continue to be lower through 2020 and is projected to increase only after H1 of 2021.


At Escondida copper mine in Chile, workforce was limited due to COVID-19. This did not affect production as the mine reported a 2pc growth compared to prior year due to record concentrator throughput. 


At Oyu Tolgoi, mined copper production dipped by 7pc from 2019 due to scheduled maintenance shutdown in the mill. Mine development and ramping up production in phases will accelerate the access to higher copper grades in H2 of 2020.  


Iron Ore

Pilbara operations produced 161.1mn mt of iron ore in H1, which is 3pc higher than 2019. Rio’s total iron ore production climbed 5pc to 71.68 mn mt in Q2 and up by 7pc from the prior quarter. The company’s operations performed well in Q2 given the COVID-19 challenges.


Half Yearly Production

Rio Tinto produced 1.56mn mt of aluminium, down by 2 pc from the year prior while copper slipped by 5pc to 265,700mt. Iron ore and bauxite production increased in H1 2020 from the prior year period by 3pc and 8pc, respectively.  

Production H1 2020H1 2019Pc Change (YoY)
Aluminium (‘000 mt)1,5681,599-2%
Bauxite  (‘000 mt)28,37326,1718%
Copper  (‘000 mt)265.70280.80-5%
Iron Ore  (‘000 mt)1,38,4771,34,7233%


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