Rio Tinto ships more Pilbara iron ore but lowers copper outlook in Q3 report

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) produced another set of mixed results in its Q3 production report, exporting more iron ore than expected but lowering its copper output guidance for the second time this year.

The world’s second largest mining company by market capitalisation shipped 85.8 million tonnes of iron ore from its mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia during the quarter ending September 30, a 6% rise on last year.

“The business performed very well in the September quarter, with a strong quarterly production performance and a wave of productivity improvements embedded through our operations,” said Rio’s chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques.

“In particular, we are making good progress with further improvements to our world-class Pilbara iron ore business, including the opening of the Silvergrass mine and the implementation of AutoHaul.”

However, the Anglo-Australian firm’s copper performance continues to be marred by the effects of a recent seven-week strike at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, which delayed its expansion plans.

Rio produced a lower than expected 120,600 tonnes of copper during Q3, just as copper prices hit three-year highs.

Resultantly, the company downgraded its full-year guidance to 460,000-480,000 tonnes, down from an initial 500,000-550,000 tonnes.

Coking coal production was also lower following the sale of its sold its Coal & Allied operations in New South Wales, to Chinese firm Yancoal.