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Aluminium|Business|Copper|Iron Ore|Mining|Refinery|Safety|Steel|System|Underground
aluminium|business|copper|iron-ore|mining|refinery|safety|steel|system|underground

Rio Tinto sees gradual recovery in China’s economy in 2024

CEO Jakob Stausholm

CEO Jakob Stausholm

16th January 2024

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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Diversified mining major Rio Tinto expects stimulus measures implemented by China to catalyse a slow but steady recovery of the world’s second-biggest economy in 2024, providing reinforcement to commodity prices.

Increased Chinese policy measures, reduced global recession anxieties and a general slowdown in inflation have already lent backing to commodity prices in the fourth quarter, the iron-ore mining major states in its December quarter results, presented by CEO Jakob Stausholm on Tuesday.

An improvement in the Chinese economy, which is the world’s biggest user of steel, is crucial for Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron-ore business, which last year achieved its second-highest iron-ore shipment year on record.

Total Pilbara shipments, on a 100% basis, increased to 331.8-million tonnes, supported by the implementation of the Safe Production System and the ramp up of the Gudai-Darri mine to its 43-million-tonne nameplate capacity.

Rio Tinto aims to boost Gudai-Darri’s iron-ore production capacity to 50-million tonnes a year through incremental productivity gains, with a planned investment of $70-million.

The miner reported fourth-quarter Pilbara production of 87.5-million tonnes, reflecting a 2% decline from the same period in 2022, but a 5% increase from the prior quarter.

Rio Tinto has kept its Pilbara iron-ore shipment expectations for 2024 unchanged from its October forecast, at 323-million to 338-million tonnes.

The company’s mined copper production of 620 000 t for 2023 increased by 2%, reflecting the first sustainable production from Oyu Tolgoi underground in the first quarter and a full year of increased ownership of the Mongolian mine. This offset challenges at Kennecott, in the US, following the conveyor failure in March, with the concentrator not returning to full capacity until the third quarter.

Refined copper production of 175 000 t was 16% lower than 2022, owing to the major rebuild of the smelter and refinery in Kennecott. With the smelter rebuild now completed, production is expected to stabilise in the first quarter. Rio Tinto forecasts refined copper production to rise to between  230 000 t and 260 000 t in 2024.

In other production segments, Rio Tinto’s bauxite production remained unchanged at 54.6-million tonnes in 2023, while aluminium production increased by 9% to 3.3-million tonnes.

Titanium dioxide slag production saw a 7% decline to 1.11-million tonnes, attributed to safety incidents at RTIT Quebec.

IOC, in Canada, reported a 6% decrease in production, owing to challenges relating to wildfires in northern Quebec in the second quarter, as well as extended plant downtime and conveyor belt failures in the third quarter.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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