Rio Tinto - fourth quarter production result

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said "We delivered a solid operational performance in the final quarter of 2018, in particular across our copper assets. During the year, we further strengthened our asset portfolio, continuing to invest in high quality growth. 2018 saw the early completion of Amrun, the deployment of AutoHaul™, the Koodaideri and Robe River investments and the signing of the power agreement at Oyu Tolgoi. Meanwhile, we completed disposals of $8.6 billion, including the Grasberg mine  in Indonesia and our remaining coal assets. With a firm 'value over volume' focus and disciplined allocation of capital, we will continue to progress our strategic objectives and to deliver superior returns to shareholders in the short, medium and long term."

 

 

 

Q4 2018

vs Q4 2017

vs Q3 2018

2018

vs 2017

Pilbara iron ore shipments (100% basis)

Mt

87.4

-3%

+7%

338.2

+2%

Pilbara iron ore production (100% basis)

Mt

86.6

-1%

+5%

337.8

+2%

Bauxite

kt

11,790

-14%

-7%

50,421

-1%

Aluminium

kt

874

-1%

-1%

3,458

-3%

Mined copper

kt

177.8

+20%

+11%

633.5

+33%

Titanium dioxide slag

kt

294

-14%

-1%

1,116

-15%

IOC iron ore pellets and concentrate

Mt

2.8

+4%

-2%

9.0

-20%

 

Operational update

Pilbara iron ore shipments of 338 million tonnes (100 per cent basis) in 2018 were two per cent higher than 2017.

During the quarter, Rio Tinto announced it had successfully deployed AutoHaul™ at its Pilbara operations, approved a $2.6 billion investment in the Koodaideri iron ore replacement mine, and approved an investment of $1.55 billion (Rio Tinto's 53 per cent share $820 million) at two projects to sustain production capacity at the Robe River Joint Venture.

Bauxite production of 50.4 million tonnes in 2018 was one per cent lower than 2017. Third party shipments increased by two per cent to 32.8 million tonnes. During the fourth quarter, commissioning works at CBG in Guinea and the transition of operations from East Weipa to Amrun in Queensland resulted in a short term drop in production.

Aluminium production of 3.5 million tonnes was three per cent lower than 2017 due primarily to ongoing labour disruptions at the non-managed Becancour smelter in Canada.

Mined copper production of 634 thousand tonnes was 33 per cent higher than 2017, and above the guidance range, primarily reflecting strong performance at Escondida and increased production from Rio Tinto Kennecott due largely to higher grades.

Titanium dioxide slag production of 1.1 million tonnes was 15 per cent lower than 2017 due to production disruptions at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in the second quarter, and intermittent stoppages related to labour disputes between contractors and their employees at Richards Bay Minerals in the first half.

Fourth quarter production at Iron Ore Company of Canada was four per cent higher than the fourth quarter of 2017. However, 2018 production was 20 per cent lower than 2017, due to a strike at the mine that significantly impacted second quarter production.

Other major milestones in the quarter included first bauxite shipment from Amrun, achieved six weeks ahead of schedule, and the signing of the Power Source Framework Agreement between Oyu Tolgoi and the Government of Mongolia.

 

 

Corporate update

Disposal proceeds received in 2018 were approximately $8.6 billion, pre-tax, including:

 

-     The completion of the sale of our entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia for $3.5 billion, including a $0.1 billion attributable share of copper and gold revenues, net of our capital contribution for the year.

-     The completion of the sale of our aluminium smelter at Dunkerque, France for $0.4 billion, net of completion adjustments.

 

-     The completion of the sale of a wharf and land in Kitimat, British Columbia for $0.6 billion.

 

-     The completion of the sale of our coking coal assets for $4.1 billion.

During the quarter, Rio Tinto announced that it had entered into a binding agreement with China National Uranium Corporation for the sale of its entire 68.62 per cent stake in Rössing Uranium. Subject to certain conditions precedent being met, the transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2019.

In 2018, Rio Tinto repurchased $5.4 billion of shares. This included an off-market buy-back tender in Rio Tinto Limited shares for $2.1 billion, and further on-market purchases of Rio Tinto plc shares of $3.3 billion. See page 11 for details.

In the first half of 2018, Rio Tinto noted the negative impact to EBITDA resulting from raw material input price inflation, particularly in the Aluminium business, and the escalation of alumina index prices which impacted its alumina legacy contracts. These trends have continued to be observed in the second half of 2018.

 

All figures in this report are unaudited. All currency figures in this report are US dollars, and comments refer to Rio Tinto's share of production, unless otherwise stated. To allow production numbers to be compared on a like-for-like basis, production from asset divestments completed in 2017 is excluded from Rio Tinto share of production data but assets sold in 2018 remain in comparisons.