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Rio Tinto’s copper output rises in quarter

Oct 15, 2013 | 05:07 PM | Mark Burton

Tags  Rio Tinto, copper production, Sam Walsh, copper concentrate, Oyu Tolgoi, Turquoise Hill, Bingham Canyon, Mark Burton

LONDON — Rio Tinto Plc produced 162,300 tonnes of copper in concentrate in the third quarter, up 23 percent year on year and 11 percent above the previous quarter as the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine consistently processed ore at nameplate capacity.

Production for the first nine months of the year stood at 458,700 tonnes, up 19 percent from a year earlier, the mining group said Oct. 15.

The London-based company also raised its production forecast for Bingham Canyon in Utah to 185,000 tonnes of contained copper as the recovery of the mine outperformed expectations.

The Oyu Tolgoi Mine, which shipped its first concentrates July 9, will produce 75,000 to 85,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2013, Rio Tinto subsidiary Turquoise Hill said separately Oct. 15.

"We maintained good progress against our strategic priorities to improve the performance of our businesses, strengthen the balance sheet and deliver our approved growth projects. We are also making further important gains in productivity across our operations and continue to drive costs out of the business," Rio Tinto chief executive officer Sam Walsh told investors.

Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi Mine is set to become a major supplier of copper-gold concentrates to China, but customers have yet to take delivery of the material, which is being stored near the border between the two countries pending customs clearance from China.

"Oyu Tolgoi’s customers are making good progress with Chinese customs officials to obtain necessary approvals to enable them to collect purchased concentrate from the bonded Chinese warehouse," Rio Tinto said. "Revenue will be recognized when customers withdraw concentrate from the warehouse. Oyu Tolgoi expects sales to be aligned with production rates by the end of the year."

Across all copper assets, mined and refined output for 2013 is estimated at 590,000 tonnes and 270,000 tonnes, respectively, Rio Tinto said.

A version of this article was first published in AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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