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Rio Tinto recently released its fourth quarter 2012 operations review. Bauxite and alumina production in 2012 were 11% and 12% higher, respectively, driven by increased third-party demand for bauxite and expanded refining capacity at Yarwun. Aluminum production was 10% lower than in 2011, as ramp up to normal capacity continued following resolution of the Alma labor dispute.
Titanium dioxide feedstock production for the full year increased 11% from 2011, following a successful furnace rebuild at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane and an increase in attributable volumes from Richards Bay Minerals.
The company reported that record global iron ore shipments of 247 million tons were achieved in 2012, despite severe weather disruptions and a significant maintenance shutdown during the year. Global iron ore production for the full year was 253 million tons, 4% higher than in 2011.
Pilbara iron ore production of 239 million tons reportedly set another annual record, at 4% higher than in 2011. Current nameplate capacity in the Pilbara has risen from 225 Mt/year at the start of 2012 to 237 Mt/year through debottlenecking and productivity improvement, with minimal capital spend.
“This was another year of strong operational performance across the group,” said Tom Albanese, chief executive. “We achieved record annual iron ore production and shipments as our expansion program continues on schedule, delivering industry-leading returns for our shareholders. Our copper, bauxite, alumina, thermal coal and titanium dioxide businesses all delivered substantial production increases on 2011 levels.
“Markets remain volatile, but our business continues to perform well. Across the group, we are taking action to roll back unsustainable cost increases. This further enhances our resilience and competitive edge as we enter 2013.”
For additional information, visit www.riotinto.com.