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

Rio Tinto shipped 77.8mn mt iron ore from its flagship mine Pilbara, in Western Australia in Q1, up by 7pc from Q1FY2020, while down by 12pc from Q4. Production from the mine was 2pc lower than prior year quarter at 76.4mn mt and 11pc lower than Q4 amid labour crunch and wet weather conditions in February, according to the company’s operational update. The company relied on its stockpiles to ship more than it mined in the March quarter. 


Rio Tinto confirmed the impact of tropical cyclone Seroja on mine and port operation in April but kept its full year iron ore shipment guidance unchanged at 325mn-340mn mt. The guidance for Pilbara is, however, subject to risks associated with its aging mines and production starts at the new replacement mine capacities.


Pellets and concentrate output at Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) fell to 2.3mn mt, down by 8pc from the prior year due to factors such as bad weather, reduced availability of loading unit and concentrator mill. Despite a fire at one of its reclaimers at the port on 31 March, the company has left full year output guidance unchanged at 10.5mn-12.0mn mt.


In Q1, bauxite production fell to 13.6mn mt, 2pc lower than the prior year amid wet weather conditions in Eastern Australia. Rough sea and cyclones led to a 14-day closure of the port at Amrun mine in Q1. The company has maintained its bauxite guidance for the full year.


Rio Tinto’s aluminium production rose to 803,479mt in Q1, up by 3pc from the prior year supported by full capacity utilization at the Becancour smelter in Quebec and Kitimat smelter in British Columbia approaching the end of its pot relining stage. 


Mined copper production fell to 120,548mt, down by 9pc compared to the prior year quarter and Q4. Production fell amid lower recoveries and throughput at Escondida and Kennecott mine, which was partly offset by higher grade from the Oyu Tolgoi. Shipments from Oyu Tolgoi were impacted by Chinese border restrictions amid increased COVID-19 cases in Mongolia.


Rio Tinto’s production in Q1
Commodities (mt)Q1FY2021Q1FY2020Change YoYQ4FY2020Change QoQ
*Iron Ore65.68mn66.78mn-2%73,749-11%
Copper – mined120,5481,32,973-9%132.5-9%
Copper – refined59,16247,24525%56.15%
* Production figures are Rio Tinto’s share of production



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