Rio Tinto‘s global iron ore operations have set a new annual record of 239 million tons in 2010 and a quarterly production record of 65 million tons.

Releasing its fourth quarter 2010 operations review, Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese said its top priority in 2010 was to run operations at full capacity, in an environment of strong prices for most of its commodities.

“During the quarter we approved a further $5.5bn in value-adding growth projects, including the expansion of our Pilbara iron ore operations to 283 million tons a year and the first phase of an aluminium smelting pilot plant in Quebec using our new AP60 technology,” Albanese said.

Mined and refined copper were down 9% and 6% on the fourth quarter of 2009 and down 16% and 5% on full year 2009, in line with previous guidance.

Bauxite production increased 9% year on year in line with higher demand with alumina and aluminium production broadly flat.

The company’s Australian thermal coal production was down 9% overall for the year, due to wet weather conditions in the Hunter Valley.

Rio Tinto said it is unable to provide an estimate of the full impact of flooding over its four Queensland mines or the duration of the force majeure declaration.