Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto yesterday posted a fall in first-quarter iron ore production, blaming bad weather over western Australia.
January to March output of 66.4 million tonnes of ore was below most forecasts and 6 percent, or 4 million tonnes, down on the last three months of last year.
The world’s second-largest mining company pointed to cyclone activity, which often plagues first-quarter figures from the resource-rich Pilbara region in Western Australia.
“Production in the first quarter was below fourth quarter levels due to disruption caused by seasonal weather patterns,” Rio said.
“Heavy rainfall associated with this cyclone and other adverse weather conditions in January and February impacted across mine, rail and port operations,” it said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
Chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio Tinto had “started the year with a series of performance records as we continue to drive productivity gains across our operations.”
“Our Pilbara iron ore business has again set new benchmarks for production, shipments and rail volumes for the first quarter and we are well on track to reach nameplate capacity of 290 million tonnes per annum by the end of the first half of 2014,” he said.
Iron ore guidance was unchanged with Rio saying it remained on track to meet full-year targets of about 295 million tonnes from Australia and Canada.
Copper production also slipped from the last quarter of last year, down 6 percent to 156,500 tonnes. However, copper output was up 17 percent on the first quarter of last year.
Analysts welcomed Rio confirming full-year guidance and the share price gained A$0.09 or 0.14 percent to end at A$63.35.
The company staged a dramatic turnaround last year to report a US$3.67 billion annual net profit after major cost-cutting that saw thousands of workers sacked and capital spending slashed.
Walsh was brought to turn around the firm, which lost US$3.03 billion in 2012 after US$14.36 billion in writedowns.