Stoppage At Bécancour Smelter Dents Rio Tinto’s 2018 Aluminium Production By 3 Percent

Stoppage At Bécancour Smelter Dents Rio Tinto’s 2018 Aluminium Production By 3 Percent

Anglo-Australian mining behemoth Rio Tinto Group said earlier this week that it has cut aluminium production guidance for 2018 to between 3.4 million and 3.5 million metric tons, representing a drop in estimated production of 4.2 percent for the year.

The firm said that the drop, which was from an initial estimate of 3.5 million to 3.7 million metric tons, was largely attributable to a labor lock-out at the Bécancour Smelter (ABI) in Quebec, Canada. The lock-out at the smelter, in which Rio Tinto owns 25.1 percent, began in mid-January.

Rio Tinto’s ownership share, which it splits with majority owner Alcoa Corporation, netted it only 26 thousand metric tons of aluminium this year through September, down by 68.7 percent year-on-year. For reference, the smelter’s total raw aluminium output in 2015 totaled 437 thousand metric tons.

Aside from the drop in production from ABI, Rio Tinto explained that aluminium production for the just-ended quarter was “2% higher than the same period of 2017, reflecting continued productivity creep.” Altogether, through September the firm produced 2.58 million metric tons of virgin aluminium, a drop-off of 3 percent year-on-year.

Rio Tinto reported production of 38.63 million metric tons of bauxite ore on the year through September, a 4.3-percent rise year on year. The increase was despite a 4.4-percent quarter-on-quarter drop in bauxite production during the third quarter, when Rio Tinto mined 12.7 million metric tons. The year-to-date rise prompted an upward adjustment in the year’s projected output to between 50 million and 51 million metric tons, up from a projection of between 49 million and 51 million metric tons.

Alumina production for the year through September totaled 5.96 million metric tons, off by 1.6 percent for production through last year’s first nine months. This year’s third-quarter alumina production totaled 1.97 million metric tons, essentially equal year-on-year and off by a mere 30 thousand metric tons quarter-on-quarter.