Rio Tinto, the world's second-biggest miner by market value, on Tuesday reported a quarter-on-quarter increase in its output of commodities including iron ore and aluminum. The miner's total copper-equivalent production increased by just over 3% in 2023, from 2022, it said. Here are some remarks from Rio Tinto's fourth-quarter production report.


On Australian iron ore output:

"We produced 87.5 million [metric] tons (Rio Tinto share 73.8 million tons) in the fourth quarter, 2% lower than the corresponding period of 2022, and 5% higher than the prior quarter. Shipments of 86.3 million tons (Rio Tinto share 73.3 million tons) were 1% lower than the fourth quarter of 2022, and 3% higher than the prior quarter. SP10 was a larger proportion of shipments during the fourth quarter (20%).

Shipments for 2023, on a 100% basis, were 3% higher than in 2022, making 2023 the second highest shipment year on record. Improved system performance supported by a 5 million tonne uplift from implementation of the Safe Production System, and ramp-up of Gudai-Darri to its 43 million ton nameplate capacity, offset mine depletion.

Expectations for Pilbara iron ore shipments in 2024 remain at 323 [million] to 338 million tons, unchanged since October 2023. SP10 levels are expected to remain elevated until replacement projects are delivered. Levels are dependent on the timing of approvals for planned mining areas, including heritage clearances."


On iron-ore prices:

"Iron ore prices rose by 17% over the quarter, while the average monthly price in the fourth quarter of $129/dry ton (Platts CFR 62% Fe index) was 13% higher than the third quarter. Seaborne supply increased by circa 1% quarter-on-quarter, which was absorbed by the circa 3% quarter-on-quarter growth in China's iron ore imports and the stabilization of steel demand in other developed and emerging regions. China's steel and pig iron production run-rates decelerated in late-December, while iron ore arrivals remained elevated in line with typical fourth quarter seasonality. China's port inventories increased by circa 6 million tons during the quarter, reaching 120 million tons by the end of the year."


On aluminum output:

"Aluminum production of 0.8 million tons was 8% higher than the fourth quarter of 2022 after we returned to full capacity at our Kitimat smelter and completed cell recovery efforts at Boyne in the prior period. All our other smelters continued to demonstrate stable performance during the quarter.

Production from Matalco in 2023 was 582,000 tons of recycled aluminum products with Rio Tinto marketing these products from 1 December 2023."


On aluminum prices:

"The LME aluminum price increased by 1% over the quarter, while the average price rose 2%, from the third quarter, to $2,190/ton. Aluminum demand in North America and Europe remained weak, except in the transport sector. Chinese primary production growth slowed during the quarter on renewed winter disruptions in southern China. Low global reported inventories remained supportive of aluminum prices."


On copper output:

"Mined copper production of 620,000 tons (consolidated basis) was 2% higher than 2022 reflecting first sustainable production from Oyu Tolgoi underground in the first quarter and a full year of increased ownership of Oyu Tolgoi. This offset challenges at Kennecott following the conveyor failure in March, with the concentrator not returning to full capacity until the third quarter.

Refined copper production of 175,000 tons was 16% lower than 2022 as we undertook the largest rebuild of the smelter and refinery in Kennecott's history across the second and third quarters. With the smelter rebuild successfully completed and the ramp-up progressing, we expect a return to stable production in the first quarter of 2024."


On copper prices:

"The LME copper price increased by 3% over the quarter, although the $3.70/pound average price was 2% lower than the third quarter. Major mine supply disruptions in Central and South America, and lower expectations for 2024 supply, have tightened the market balance. Energy transition-related copper demand supported growth in 2023 and helped offset weaker demand from the construction sector."


Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 15, 2024 17:58 ET (22:58 GMT)

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