Rio Tinto posts quarterly iron ore, coal records

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Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Thursday posted record iron ore sales and steelmaking coal output in the third quarter and said it was operating at "full capacity" despite global anxiety.

In its quarterly production update, Rio said iron ore sales at its flagship Pilbara region in Western Australia notched a new record of 60 million tonnes, but did not provide a dollar figure for the value of those sales.

Production of coal used in steelmaking also hit a new quarterly high, bouncing 14 percent to 2.8 million tonnes -- 56 percent higher than during the flood and cyclone-affected second quarter.

"We have set new quarterly records for iron ore sales and hard coking coal production as our operations recovered from the severe weather experienced earlier in the year," said Rio's Chief Executive Tom Albanese.

"Whilst we are mindful of current market volatility, the fundamentals are holding up well, particularly for bulk-traded commodities," he added.

"We are operating at full capacity, selling all we produce and our growth programme is on track, supported by the strength of our balance sheet."

Rio booked record first-half earnings of US$7.6 billion in August -- a 30 percent year-on-year rise -- due to strong commodities demand from Asia.

On Thursday, the miner affirmed its earlier annual production forecast of 240 million tonnes for iron ore, eight million tonnes for steelmaking coal and 18 million tonnes for thermal coal, burned to produce power.

© 2011 AFP

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