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Rio Tinto reports 9% copper production drop in 2020

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(Kitco News) - Rio Tinto today released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 production results.

The company said that production of 527,900 tonnes of copper in 2020 was above the guidance range, but 9% lower than in 2019 due to lower grades at Kennecott as a result of planned pit sequencing and Oyu Tolgoi production phasing.

Pilbara iron ore achieved a strong performance across the network in 2020, despite impacts from Cyclone Damien in the first quarter and COVID-19 disruptions which also resulted in the deferral of maintenance to the second half. Shipments of 330.6 million tonnes (100% basis) were 1% higher than 2019 and production of 333.4 million tonnes (100% basis), 2% higher than 2019.

Bauxite production of 56.1 million tonnes was 2% higher than 2019 supported by the ramp-up of the expansion at the CBG mine in Guinea, and steady performance at the Pacific mines.

Aluminium production of 3.2 million tonnes was in line with 2019, with lower volumes from the curtailment of Line 4 at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in New Zealand and from the Kitimat smelter pot relining campaign, offset by the ramp-up of the Becancour smelter in Quebec.

Titanium dioxide slag production of 1.1 million tonnes was 7% lower than 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec and South Africa, lower market demand and operational disruptions at Richards Bay Minerals.

Production of pellets and concentrate at Iron Ore Company of Canada was 1% lower than 2019 due to unplanned maintenance at the processing facilities in the third and fourth quarters.

CEO Jakob Stausholm said, “We have delivered a strong safety and operational performance in the face of the significant global challenges of COVID-19. Our 2020 performance reflects the resilience of the business, and the commitment and flexibility of our employees, customers, communities and host governments.”

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