Rio Tinto strikes iron ore production record

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Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto said Thursday its iron ore production had expanded one percent to a new record in a solid third quarter for the company.

Rio said its global iron ore figures, along with record production of alumina and Australian coal for steel-making, had offset a slump in copper and gold production.

"This quarter we achieved record production in iron ore, alumina and coking coal. Our investment in organic growth is gathering momentum," said Rio chief Tom Albanese. "We continue to run our operations at close to or above capacity rates, taking advantage of strong prices for our products."

Iron ore production was up one percent at 47.6 million tonnes from 47.0 million tonnes in the same period last year, and 43.6 million tonnes for the three months to June. Full-year production was estimated at 179 million tonnes.

Production of Australian hard coking coal was up 17 percent at 2.4 million tonnes, while semi-soft and power-generating thermal coal slipped 14 percent to 5.2 million tonnes due to bad weather.

Alumina production was up six percent from a year earlier at 2.3 million tonnes.

Rio projected hard coking coal output for the year would be 9.5 million tonnes, semi-soft coal output would be 3.3 million tonnes and thermal coal 19.1 million tonnes.

However the firm's US coal production halved to 11.9 million tonnes due to declines in Colorado and Montana and the October 2009 sale of its Jacobs Ranch mine in Wyoming.

Ore grade problems continued to plague Rio's copper, gold and silver operations, driving production levels down.

The miner said it had approved 4.2 billion US dollars for projects and expansions in the quarter, 2.9 billion of which was for its west Australian iron ore operations.

© 2010 AFP

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