By Will Horner

 

Rio Tinto PLC produced more iron ore, bauxite and alumina in the six months of 2020 despite the threat posed by the coronavirus and national lockdowns.

Copper output fell, however, while refined copper production was harmed by an earthquake. Rio Tinto left its production guidance for 2020 unchanged for all commodities.

The company's results showed it was successfully navigating Covid-19 challenges, analysts at BMO Capital Markets said.

Here are some of the highlights from Rio's first-half report.

 

Iron Ore:

Rio Tinto mined 161.1 million metric tons of iron ore in the first half of the year, 3% more than in the same period in 2019. The miner also increased the amount of iron ore shipped by 3% to 159.6 million tons, driven by strong Chinese demand as the nation reemerged from its coronavirus lockdown.

The development of the Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia was progressing well, with production expected to ramp up in early 2022, Rio said. Its said the first ore from its Robe River and Western Turner Syncline projects, also in Western Australia, are expected in 2021.

 

Aluminum:

Bauxite and alumina production rose in the first half but aluminum output fell as the coronavirus led to curtailments at smelters in Iceland and New Zealand. Bauxite output rose 8% to 28,373 million tons, alumina production rose 3% to 4,000 million tons and aluminum production fell 2% to 1,568 million tons.

Rio said it was hoping to restart the expansion of its Kemano generating station in Canada in the third quarter after the project was put on care and maintenance.

 

Copper:

Lower grades of copper at Rio Tinto's Kennecott and Oyu Tolgoi open-pit mines in Utah and Mongolia, respectively, offset higher production at the Escondida mine in Chile and pulled down Rio's copper output in the six months through June. Refined copper production slumped as the Kennecott mine faced an earthquake and a coronavirus shutdown.

Rio mined 265.7 million tons of copper in the first half of the year, down 5% from the first half of 2019. Refined copper production fell 43% 74.1 million tons.

 

Write to Will Horner at william.horner@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 29, 2020 07:00 ET (11:00 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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