PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified major Rio Tinto has reported record financial results for the six months to June, with sales revenues up by 71% on the previous corresponding period, and underlying earnings up 156%.
“Government stimulus in response to ongoing Covid-19 pressures has driven strong demand for our products at a time of constrained supply resulting in a significant spike in most prices,” said Rio CEO Jakob Stausholm.
“We focused on safely running our world-class assets and supplying products to our customers. This enabled us, despite operational challenges, to deliver record financial results with free cash flow of $10.2-billion and underlying earnings of $12.2-billion, after taxes and government royalties of $7.3-billion.”
Consolidated sales revenue for the half-year was up to $33-billion, from the $19.3-billion reported in the previous corresponding period, while underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were up from $9.6-billion to $21-billion.
“We are further strengthening the portfolio with our commitment to fund the high-quality Jadar lithium project, which signals our large-scale entry into the fast-growing battery materials market. We will pay an interim dividend of 561 cents per share, representing 75% of underlying earnings,” said Stausholm on Wednesday.
“We are making progress on our four priorities, identifying opportunities for operational improvement, advancing our environmental and social governance (ESG) agenda, taking important investment decisions and stepping up our external engagement. We are making real and lasting changes to the way we engage, interact and operate and are committed to ensuring that we have strong and positive relationships wherever we do business. We have identified what we need to do to make Rio Tinto a better company for the long term, with the right teams in place to unleash our full potential.”
Meanwhile, Rio on Wednesday reported that capital expenditure for the half-year was also up by 24%, to $3.33-billion, with the miner increasing spend exploration and evaluation to $324-million in 2021 first half, as Rio progressed its greenfield programmes across 8 commodities in 19 countries and advanced its evaluation projects, notably Resolution Copper in Arizona and Winu copper/gold in Western Australia.
Mining has also started at the $2.6-billion Gudai-Darri replacement iron-ore mine, in Western Australia, with more than nine-million cubic metres of pre-stripping completed in June. Rio noted that despite labour shortages, first ore in the crusher is expected in 2021, although commissioning is later than originally planned. The project is expected to ramp up in early 2022, and reach full capacity in 2023. The first phase of this new hub, which will be Rio’s most technologically advanced mine, connecting up with its autonomous rail network, will have a 43-million-tonne annual capacity, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend.
Meanwhile, first ore at West Angelas was achieved in June with load commissioning expected later in the year following delays related to heritage management. First ore at Robe Valley is still expected in 2021, while first ore at the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 mine, which will also replace existing production, is still expected in 2021.
Rio on Wednesday also approved a $2.4-billion investment into the Jadar lithium/borates project, in Serbia.
Following ramp up to full production in 2029, the mine will produce around 58 000 t of lithium carbonate, 160 000 t of boric acid and 255 000 t of sodium sulphate annually, making Rio one of the top ten lithium producers in the world.