Rio Tinto produced, shipped record iron ore in 2012; aluminum drops 10 per cent

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MONTREAL - Global mining giant Rio Tinto achieved record iron ore production and shipments in 2012 on continued growth in the fourth quarter, but its aluminum production dropped 10 per cent for the year, mostly related to its lockout of employees in Alma, Que.

The London-based company said that despite volatile ore prices it achieved production gains and rolled back "unsustainable" cost increases to enhance its "resilience and competitive edge" in 2013.

Rio said its copper, bauxite, alumina, thermal coal and titanium dioxide also enjoyed production increases last year.

The miner shipped 247 million tonnes of iron ore in 2012 despite weather disruptions and a significant maintenance shutdown during the year. Production increased four per cent to 253 million tonnes. Rio Tinto's share of production was 199 million tonnes, led by its operations in Australia.

Production in the fourth quarter grew two per cent to 66 million tonnes, with Rio's share reaching 52 million tonnes.

Production by the Iron Ore Company of Canada, jointly owned by Rio Tinto and Mitsubishi, grew 13 per cent to 2.3 million tonnes of pellets and concentrate in the fourth quarter due to operating improvements and the first phase of an expansion designed to increase annual production to 22 million tonnes. A second phase, expected to be completed in the first quarter, will lift capacity to 23.3 million tonnes.

Production in the quarter was down three per cent from the third quarter. For the full year, production grew five per cent to 8.3 million tonnes.

Total Rio Tinto aluminum production dipped 5.7 per cent to 906,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter, but was up nearly six per cent from the third quarter as it continued to ramp up production in Alma.

For the full year, production was 3.46 million tonnes, off 10 per cent from 2011.

Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium production grew by 18 per cent to reach 450,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter, and by 10.4 per cent to 1.6 million tonnes for the year.

Diamonds processed at the Diavik mine in the Northwest Territories that is co-owned with Harry Winston (TSX:HW) reached 1.9 million carats in the four quarter and 7.2 million carats for the year, up 19 per cent and eight per cent respectively.

Organizations: Rio Tinto, Iron Ore Company of Canada, Mitsubishi Harry Winston TSX

Geographic location: MONTREAL, Alma, Que, Australia Alma Northwest Territories

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