-Rio Tinto's 2019 iron ore guidance at lower end of forecasts
(Corrects figures in 12th para to 550,000-600,000)
* Quarterly iron ore production dips 1 percent to 86.6 mln
* Mined copper production tops guidance at 633,500 tonnes
* Higher costs continue in alumina division
* A solid result considering economic conditions - analyst
Jan 18 (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto on Friday
logged a slight drop in quarterly iron ore production in
December and said it expected to produce more iron ore in 2019
in a target range that was at the lower end of analyst
Mined copper production beat its guidance, mostly due to
higher grades and better productivity at Rio Tinto's Kennecott
operations in the Utah, the company said in a statement.
Rio's fourth-quarter iron ore production stood at 86.6
million tonnes, down by 1 percent from the fourth quarter of
2017, due to fewer shipments.
Meanwhile its outlook for iron ore production for this year,
was in a range of 338 million tonnes to 350 million tonnes,
making a Vuma consensus of 348.8 million tonnes at the top end
of its guidance.
The world's No. 2 miner of the steelmaking material declared
force majeure on iron ore shipments to some customers following
a fire at its Cape Lambert export terminal in Australia earlier
Combined, global miners are expected to have shipped out
less iron ore in the last quarter of 2018 than in 2017, however
buoyant iron ore prices are expected to drive a solid season for
"You’d have to say it’s a pretty good result. It’s not
shooting the lights out, but given the economic background, you
can’t really complain too much," said analyst David Lennox at
Fat Prophets in Sydney.
Shares in Rio rose 0.5 percent to A$80.81 ($58.08) by 2312
Rio's 2018 iron ore shipments from Australia's Pilbara
region totalled 338.2 million tonnes, up 2 percent from 330.1
million tonnes the year before on the back of productivity
gains, in line with a Vuma consensus of 339.2 million tonnes.
The Anglo-Australian miner had given guidance of 330 million
to 340 million tonnes.
In November, Rio officially bankrolled a $2.6 billion
futuristic iron ore mine in the resource-rich Pilbara region,
aiming to cash in on the rising Chinese demand for finer ore.
"We delivered a solid operational performance in the final
quarter of 2018, in particular across our copper assets," Chief
Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques said.
For 2018, the London-headquartered miner posted a 33 percent
jump in mined copper production to 633,500 tonnes, beating its
guidance of between 510,000-610,000 tonnes. It set a 2019 target
to churn out between 550,000 tonnes and 600,000 tonnes of mined
The solid outlook for copper coupled with Rio's desire to
reduce its reliance on iron ore has prompted the miner to boost
its copper assets.
Inflation of raw materials costs that negatively impacted
its aluminium business in the first half of the year continued
into the second half, it noted.
Rio's quarterly iron ore shipments from the Pilbara fell 3
percent to 87.4 million tonnes in the quarter ended Dec. 31,
($1 = 1.3914 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru and Melanie Burton in
MELBOURNE; Editing by Toby Chopra and Stephen Coates)
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