By Rhiannon Hoyle

Rio Tinto PLC said it expects full-year iron-ore shipments from its Australian mining operations to be in the upper half of company guidance, but cut production estimates for several other commodities it produces, including alumina and refined copper.

The world's second-largest miner by market value on Wednesday said 2023 iron-ore shipments are now expected to be in the top half of its 320 million to 335 million metric ton projection. The company, which relies on steel ingredient iron ore for the majority of its profits, said it shipped 79.1 million tons of the commodity from its Australian iron-ore mines in the second quarter of the year, down 1% on the same time last year.

Shipments during the period were affected by planned maintenance at the Dampier port and a train derailment. Output from operations was 3% higher than the second quarter of 2022 as Rio Tinto's newest iron-ore mine, Gudai-Darri, started to run consistently at full capacity, the company said.

"With continued operational improvements across the Pilbara system, and the implementation of the safe production system, full-year shipments are now expected to be in the upper half of the original 320 to 335 million [ton] range," said the miner.

However, Rio Tinto downgraded output estimates for a number of its other commodities. "Production downgrades during the quarter highlight that we still have much more to do," Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said.

Rio Tinto cut its 2023 alumina production guidance to between 7.4 million and 7.7 million tons, from 7.7 million to 8.0 million tons previously, and said the Queensland Alumina business in Australia has initiatives underway to improve plant stability and production rates. The company also said its output of bauxite, the main raw ingredient for alumina making, is expected to be at the lower end of its guidance range after the Weipa operation in Australia was disrupted by higher-than-average rainfall that led to longer haul distances.

Rio Tinto meantime reduced its full-year refined copper guidance to between 160,000 and 190,000 tons, from 180,000 to 210,000 tons, citing a broader-than-initially expected rebuild of its Kennecott smelter in the U.S. That has also led to an increase to 2023 so-called C1 unit cost guidance in its copper business, to $1.80 to $2.00 a pound versus a prior estimate of $1.60 to $1.80 per pound, it said.

Rio Tinto trimmed annual guidance for the Iron Ore Company of Canada operations, too, citing wildfires in northern Quebec, and said production estimates could be further affected by the fires.

Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 18, 2023 20:21 ET (00:21 GMT)

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