Copper production as its new Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia came on stream underpinned a much better than expected third quarter for mining giant Rio Tinto. Copper output jumped 23% in the three months to September as Oyu Tolgoi continued its ramp-up, while Kennecott in the US recovered from its wall slide earlier this year.

An area of concern regarding Oyu Tolgoi is that cash is being tied at bonded warehouses for copper while issues are resolved with Chinese custom officials.

Rio also recorded a record quarter for iron ore production, with first shipments through Cape Lambert’s wharf B in Western Australia four months ahead of schedule and US$400 million under budget.

Rio’s chief executive Sam Walsh said that productivity improvements in the Australian operations also led to record quarterly thermal coal production of 7 million tonnes, 14% higher than the previous three months, though coking coal output dropped 6%.

He said the company was on track to exceed its US$750 million cut in exploration and evaluation spending, having cut it by US$729 million already so far this year.

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