By Rhiannon Hoyle 
 

SYDNEY--Rio Tinto PLC (RIO.LN) said Wednesday it shipped more iron ore last quarter versus the same period a year ago as its Australian mining hub recovered from earlier operational and weather-related setbacks.

The miner, one of the world's top exporters of the steel ingredient, reported iron-ore shipments from its Pilbara operations of 86.1 million metric tons for the three months through September. That was up 1% on the quarter immediately prior and 5% on the same period a year earlier.

The rise in exports reflected "a good recovery from the operational and weather challenges experienced earlier in the year," said Rio Tinto.

The miner reiterated a projection for annual Pilbara iron-ore shipments of 320 million-330 million tons. The company in June downgraded that from an earlier forecast of 333 million-343 million tons, as setbacks in the Greater Brockman hub especially prompted a review of mine plans. Earlier in 2019, Rio Tinto grappled with disruptions from a cyclone and a fire at a key port.

Still, the miner has benefited from an iron-ore price that has steadied around US$90 a ton, up roughly one-quarter on what it fetched at the start of 2019. Iron ore contributed 70% of Rio's underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the first half of 2019.

Rio Tinto meantime reported quarterly mined copper production of 157,800 tons, down 1% on-year but up 15% on-quarter. That reflected higher grades at its Kennecott mine and improved throughput at Escondida, it said.

The miner downgraded full-year guidance for bauxite output to roughly 54 million tons, from 56 million-59 million tons previously. It also lowered a forecast for alumina production to about 7.7 million tons from 8.1 million-8.4 million tons. It cited weather-related disruptions and maintenance among the reasons for the cuts.

 

Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 15, 2019 17:59 ET (21:59 GMT)

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