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Rio Tinto announces strong production results in Q3

World Coal,

Rio Tinto has released production results from the third quarter of 2013, showing record iron ore and coal output, as well as reporting a positive recovery at its US Kennecott copper mine after it was hit by a landslide.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said "We achieved strong production results in the third quarter, with copper volumes up as Oyu Tolgoi ramps up to full capacity and Kennecott continues to recover ahead of expectations. Productivity improvements in our Australian operations led to record quarterly thermal coal production. In iron ore, we achieved record production and shipments in Western Australia following the official opening of our landmark Pilbara 290 port and rail expansion, four months ahead of its original schedule and US$ 400 million under budget. 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."

Coking coal

Hard coking coal production in Australia was 10% lower than Q3 2012. Work continues to recover coal following a geotechnical low wall failure experienced at Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek in July 2013. At Kestrel, operations are transitioning following the start of production from the Kestrel Mine Extension project, which will extend the life of the mine by 20 years.

Semi-soft coking coal production was 5% higher than during Q3 2012, as operations in the Hunter Valley delivered significant productivity improvements from load and haul fleets.

Thermal coal

Australian thermal coal production in Q3 increased by 15% compared with Q3 2012. This was driven by the push to deliver name plate production rates of 12.2 million tpa at Clermont. The site at Clermont has achieved a 64% increase in production compared to the same period last year. Additionally, production at sites in the Hunter Valley increased by 23% in the nine months to September, following the completion of brownfield expansions and by driving substantial productivity gains through operational improvements.

Blair Athol mine

At the start of October, the Rio Tinto managed Blair Athol Coal Joint Venture signed a sale and purchase agreement to transfer its interests in the Blair Athol mine to New Emerald Coal Ltd, a subsidiary of Linc Energy Ltd. The transaction is expected to be complete within six months. Rio Tinto ceased mining at the Blair Athol site in November 2012.

Mozambique mining

Q3 production in Mozambique increased over Q2 2013 due to yield improvement initiatives that resulted in higher hard coking coal production.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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