Rio Tinto's Pilbara Mines Reach Full Capacity Run Rate

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Anglo-Australian mining firm, Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO) said its Pilbara mining operations has achieved its optimum run rate of 290 million tonnes a year (Mt/a) two months ahead of schedule.

The company earlier stated Pilbara will reach its nameplate capacity during the second half of the year.

In a statement, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive Andrew Harding said the feat is a “significant milestone” which adds real value to the mining giant’s business.

“It builds on an impressive track record of delivery, achieved through our culture of driving performance and the quality of our people,” he said.

A month ago, Rio Tinto reported a lower first quarter iron ore production compared to that of last year after the Pilbara mines halted operations for three days due to hurricane Christine hitting the Northwest region of Australia.

Despite achieving the 290 Mt/a run rate, however, the company said there may be some variability in production owing to the completion of the 360 Mt/a expansion set by mid-2015 and the integration of its automated heavy-haul rail system, the first in the world.

Rio Tinto is set to produce 295 million tonnes of iron ore by the end of this year, up from 251 million tonnes in 2013.

Iron ore prices have been falling from US$136.32 per dry metric tonne to only US$103.00.

Shares of Rio Tinto listed on the London Stock Exchange closed 0.3 percent lower to £33.3305 a share on Tuesday.

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