Rio Tinto lifts iron ore shipments 3pc, but copper falls short – by Daniel Palmer and Matt Chambers (The Australian – January 17, 2017)

Rio Tinto has missed 2016 copper production guidance because of problems at Indonesian, US and Mongolian mines, resulting in an uncertain production outlook for this year, just as prices of the industrial metal show signs of recovery.

In its fourth quarter production report released this morning, the mining giant (RIO) logged full-year mined copper production of 523,300 tonnes, up four per cent from 2015 but missing already reduced guidance of between 535,000 and 565,000 tonnes. In October, guidance was cut from 545,000 to 595,000 tonnes.

Iron ore production from Rio’s big Pilbara-region mines in Western Australia performed in line with guidance and expectations.

Rio’s share of production at the controversial Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia’s Papua province, which is run by Freeport McMoRan but in which Rio can earn a share of production above certain levels, was reduced to nothing for the whole year, despite having been reported as 20,000 tonnes previously.

“Although 20,000 tonnes of copper were notionally attributed to Rio Tinto for the nine months to September 2016 and reported in the third quarter operations review, productivity issues continued in the fourth quarter,” Rio said.

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