Anglo-Australian mining titan Rio Tinto released first quarter numbers today. Among the highlights of the first three months of a challenging aluminium market in 2016 are significant increases in bauxite, alumina, and aluminium production.
“These results demonstrate our commitment to operational excellence in 2016, with notable improvements in several important areas, including a strong performance in Aluminium,” said Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh. “However, we continue to experience volatility in commodity prices across all markets. In the face of a testing external environment, our focus remains on delivering further cost and productivity improvements, disciplined capital management and maximising free cash flow, to ensure that Rio Tinto remains strong.”
Rio Tinto’s bauxite production for Q1 totaled 11,088 thousand metric tons, which represents a slight drop of one percent from last quarter’s results, but was up six percent from last year’s Q1. The firm chalks up the increase to a ramping up of production from its Gove mine in Australia’s Northern Territory by thirty-three percent, or 2.2 million metric tons, and record production at its Sangaredi mine in Guinea, which increased by sixteen percent to 1.9 million metric tons. Third-party bauxite shipments were up as well, up by six percent from Q1 2015 to 6.8 million metric tons.
The firm’s alumina output was 2,019 thousand metric tons, which is on par with last quarter, but up seven percent over last year’s first quarter. Rio Tinto attributes this to a fifteen-percent increase in output at the Yarwun refinery in Queensland, which turned out 785 thousand metric tons in Q1, which was a new quarterly record for the plant.
Rio Tinto smelted 887 thousand metric tons of aluminium in the quarter, which is a three-percent increase over last quarter, but a full ten-percent increase over Q1 2015. The firm says the increase is the result of a ramp-up at the Kitimat smelter in British Columbia to a nameplate capacity of 420 thousand metric tons per annum in March.
According to the firm’s projections, Rio Tinto expects to maintain outputs in the recovering aluminium market by mining 45 million metric tons of bauxite, refining 7.8 million metric tons of alumina, and smelting 3.6 million metric tons of aluminium in the year 2016.