Mining major Rio Tinto has reported a seven percent rise in iron ore output in the second quarter and a surge of 17% in the first half of fiscal 2013, and is going ahead with plans to raise production in the next 18 months.
The company’s global iron ore production for the second quarter increased by seven percent to 66 million tonnes from the same period of last year and by eight percent from the last quarter.
On the other hand, shipments of iron ore grew marginally by one percent to 61.3 million tonnes, though it increased sequentially by seven percent.
During the first six months of fiscal 2013, the Anglo-Australian miner produced 127 million tonnes of the raw material, up by six percent from the corresponding period of last year.
In this period, copper production from the mines that are either completely or partly owned by Rio Tinto grew 17% to 296,400t due to higher grade of ores, which offset the production loss caused by the collapse of the pit wall at Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, US, in April.
On a year-over-year basis, mined copper production grew ten percent to 146.2 million tonnes in the quarter, due to sustained recovery in grades at its Kennecott Utah and Escondida mines.
However, compared to the first quarter, there is a decline of three percent, while the output of refined copper surged by more than 40% to 70.4 million tonnes.
The company claimed that despite the challenging weather conditions, it would continue with the expansion work in Pilbara, Australia, in order to raise annual production capacity to 290 million tonnes by the end of September.
It also announced that it is recovering from a landslide at the Bingham Canyon mine faster than expected.
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said the company’s iron ore operations continue their impressive performance, with period on period productivity improvements.
"One of our key priorities this year is to deliver our growth projects," Walsh added.
Walsh also noted that a new milestone was reached in Mongolia, with Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine making its first shipment of copper concentrate to China.
The company generates two-thirds of its revenues from iron ore production, while copper features next in the list.
The firm’s aluminum production increased by seven percent to 901 million tonnes from the same period of last year, though there was a marginal drop of one percent from the first quarter.
Output of hard coking coal fell five percent to around 1.900 million tonnes, though it rose by 15% from the previous quarter.
Image: Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia. Photo courtesy of Rio Tinto Company.