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Rio Tinto reports record first quarter iron ore shipments, lowers mined copper guidance for 2023

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(Kitco News) - Global mining giant Rio Tinto announced today that in Q1 2023, its Pilbara operations produced 79.3 million tonnes (100% basis) of iron ore, 11% higher than the first quarter of 2022.

Iron ore shipments were 82.5 million tonnes (100% basis) in Q1 2023, 16% higher than the corresponding period of 2022, and a first quarter record, with stronger mine production and a drawdown of stocks.

The company's mined copper production of 145 thousand tonnes on a consolidated basis was in line with the first quarter of 2022.

However, Rio Tinto noted that its mined copper guidance for 2023 has been lowered to 590 to 640 thousand tonnes (previously 650 to 710 thousand tonnes) primarily reflecting the impact of the conveyor outage at Kennecott, together with the geotechnical challenges in the open pit at Escondida.

Bauxite production of 12.1 million tonnes in Q1 2023 was 11% lower than the first quarter of 2022 as the company's Weipa operations were affected by higher-than-average rainfall during the annual wet season. Production was further affected by equipment downtime at both Weipa and Gove.

"We have maintained our bauxite production guidance at 54 to 57 million tonnes as we implement plans to recover lost production at both sites through the remainder of the year," the company said in a press release.

Aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes was 7% higher than the first quarter of 2022 as the company benefited from the continued ramp-up of the Kitimat smelter.

Titanium dioxide slag production of 285 thousand tonnes was 4% higher than the first quarter of 2022, due to continued improved performance at Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Quebec Operations, Canada and Richards Bay Minerals, South Africa.

Iron Ore Company of Canada's production was 5% higher than the first quarter of 2022, and in line with the prior quarter, with weather related issues impacting operations during the period. Shipments were 6% higher than the first quarter of 2022, and 4% lower than the prior quarter, following loading restrictions at the rail and port.

CEO Jakob Stausholm commented, "We continue to make steady progress with our highest ever first quarter shipments achieved in the Pilbara iron ore business. Through the ongoing deployment of our Safe Production System we expect to see a sustainable lift in operating performance across our global portfolio over time, in line with improvements already achieved.

"We remain focused on disciplined growth in materials the world needs for the energy transition, delivering first sustainable production from the underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia and progressing early works on the Rincon lithium project in Argentina. We advanced the Simandou high grade iron ore project in Guinea with our partners, and entered into an agreement for a joint venture to unlock La Granja in Peru, one of the largest undeveloped copper projects in the world."

Altius expects to report Q1 2023 attributable royalty revenue of C$21.4 million

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