Rio Tinto has reported production and shipment records for its global iron ore business in 2013, with both up by 5% compared with 2012.

Global iron ore production for 2013 reached 266 million tonnes while shipments reached 259 million tones.

The company has reported a 6% increase in global iron ore production for the fourth quarter of 2013 to 70.4 million tonnes.

Pilbara operations delivered 66.5 million tonnes of iron ore in Q4 2013, driven by productivity improvements and the continued ramp-up of recent mine expansions.

Total mined copper production improved by 5% in Q4 2013, primarily because of production at Oyu Tolgoi reaching full capacity and continued improvement in grades and throughput at Kennecott Utah Copper.

Bauxite production for the quarter grew 7%, while aluminium production declined 4% from last year.

Hard coking coal production increased 25% in Q4, while semi-soft and thermal coal production declined 9% from last year.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said the company exceeded its cost-cutting targets for 2013 and announced or completed $3.5bn of non-core asset sales.

"We have set new records for iron ore production and shipments as we ramp-up our 290 expansion, as well as achieving an impressive recovery in copper volumes and record annual production for both bauxite and thermal coal," Walsh said.

"These actions, together with lower capital expenditure in 2013 and beyond, will ensure that Rio Tinto is well positioned to deliver greater value to shareholders."

Rio Tinto said that infrastructure work at the 290 million tonnes per annum project, was four months ahead of schedule and $400m under budget. Production of shipments to a nameplate capacity of 290 million tonnes per annum continued in Q4 of 2013.

The process is expected to be completed by the end of the first half of 2014.

Expansion of the port, rail and power infrastructure to 360 million tonnes per annum is currently underway and is scheduled for completion by the end of the first half of 2015.

Image: Rio Tinto loads first ship from its 290 million tonnes per annum expansion programme at Pilbara. Photo: courtesy of Rio Tinto.