SINGAPORE Rio Tinto
Plcs mined and refined copper output fell short of
expectations in 2012, the company said Jan. 15.
Mined copper production totaled
548,800 tonnes last year, up 6 percent year on year but below
the London-based companys previous forecast of 560,000
tonnes. Meanwhile, refined copper output fell 16 percent year
on year to 279,300 tonnes, falling short of the prior estimate
of 290,000 tonnes, Rio Tinto said.
Production of copper contained
in concentrate increased through the second half of 2012 due to
a recovery in ore grades at Rio Tintos Kennecott Utah
Copper project, the company said.
Refined copper output also rose
at Kennecott Utah Copper due to improved mine production and
inventory processing after a successful maintenance shutdown of
the smelter during the second quarter, Rio Tinto added.
For the fourth quarter ended
Dec. 31, mined copper output reached 163,900 tonnes, up 20
percent from the year-earlier quarter and 24 percent higher
than the preceding three months. Refined copper production
reached 86,200 tonnes during the same period, a 7-percent
increase from year on year and 24 percent higher than the third
quarter of 2012.
Mined gold production also fell
more than 50 percent year on year to 73,000 ounces during the
quarter. However, that constituted a 6-percent increase from
the previous quarter. Refined gold output reached 78,000 ounces
in the fourth quarter, down 10 percent from some 87,000 ounces
in the year-ago period but up nearly 70 percent from 46,000
ounces in the third quarter.
Rio Tinto also expects
commercial production at the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the
South Gobi region of Mongolia to start by June 2013, it said.
Construction of the project is now 99-percent complete.
"Commissioning of the ore
processing equipment began in mid-November, and first ore was
processed through the concentrator on Jan. 2, 2013," the
company said, adding that first concentrate production will
follow within one month.
"Oyu Tolgoi has entered into
sales contracts for 75 percent of concentrate production from
the project on international terms," Rio Tinto said. "In
addition to the signed contracts, Oyu Tolgoi has committed in
principle to sell up to 25 percent of concentrate production on
international terms to smelters in Inner Mongolia for the first
10 years, subject to the conclusion of detailed sales