Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) targets to increase Pilbara iron ore exports in 2022

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  • Mining giant Rio Tinto shared its production results for the fourth quarter.
  • The Company reveals that its iron ore exports declined in 2021 amidst a labour crunch.

On Tuesday, ASX-listed global mining group Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) released its fourth-quarter production results. The mining giant has admitted significant disruptions caused due to COVID-19 and has reported a decline in its yearly shipments of iron ore, the country’s most valuable export, owing to a labour shortage in Western Australia and delay in the commissioning of new resources projects in 2021.

The shares were trading in red on the back of the news. At 1.25 PM AEDT, RIO stock was 0.319% down, trading at AU$109.68 today.

The Company revealed that its Pilbara shipments in 2021 were 321.6 million tonnes, 3% lower than 2020, and included elevated levels of SP10 product due to delays in growth and brownfield mine replacement tie-in projects.

Rio has vowed to export around 320 million to 335 million tonnes of Pilbara Iron ore (shipments) from Western Australia in 2022. This suggests that the Company could increase its Australian iron ore exports by roughly 4 % in 2022, given the pandemic remains under control and the government does not impose any curbs. Today’s results show that Rio had shipped 321.6 million tonnes of Australian iron ore in 2021.  

Other highlights from the Company’s fourth-quarter production results include:

  • Rio Tinto had shipped 84.1 million tonnes of ore from its Pilbara operations in the December quarter. Though this aligned with Rio’s target and analysts’ expectations, it was 5% lower than the same time in 2020.
  • After facing various incremental delays, Rio’s Gudai-Darri mine is expected to deliver its first production in the second quarter of 2022.
  • The production of bauxite, aluminium, and copper was lower in 2021 than the previous year due to several factors such as the pandemic, weather, and industrial action.
  • Exploration and evaluation expense in 2021 was $726 million, $101 million (16%) higher than 2020, with the ramp-up of activities in Australia, Europe, and Western Africa.
  • China’s crude steel production and iron ore imports were stable YoY, with steel production exceeding one billion tonnes for a second time, despite various steel mill operating restrictions and a slowing property sector.

Commenting on this development, Rio Tinto’s chief executive Jakob Stausholm said:



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