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Rio Tinto says grades drop copper output, wet weather lowers iron ore production

Kitco News

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) said today that its Pilbara iron ore shipments were 77.8 million tonnes, 7% higher than the first quarter of 2020. Production of 76.4 million tonnes was 2% lower, driven by above average wet weather in the mines through February and fixed plant reliability.

Rio Tinto also said that labour resource availability and weather challenges disrupted maintenance. Tropical Cyclone Seroja impacted mine and port operations in April.

Full year iron ore guidance remains unchanged.

Mined copper production was 9% lower at of 120.5 thousand tonnes compared to the same period a year ago.

The production drop off was due to lower recoveries and throughput at Escondida and Kennecott partly offset by the anticipated higher grade from the Oyu Tolgoi open pit.

"Kennecott saw a marginal increase in head grade as it begins the transition into higher grades from the south wall ore, with grades expected to gradually increase through 2021. Oyu Tolgoi shipments have been affected by Chinese border restrictions due to increased cases of COVID-19 in Mongolia," wrote the miner in a news release.

Looking at its markets, Rio Tinto noted "strong momentum" in China and "rapid progress" in the U.S., but said that "...Europe’s economic recovery remains subdued due to lock-downs and a slower roll-out of vaccination programmes."

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