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Rio Tinto announces record coal production

World Coal,

Rio Tinto has announced record annual production and shipments for hard metallurgical coal, with production records at both Australian mines and in Guinea, as well as Mozambique. Production of semi-soft and thermal coal also improved significantly for the full year, largely thanks to improvement initiatives and the completion of brownfield mine developments.

Rio Tinto chief executive, Sam Walsh, said: “These are excellent Q4 operational results, demonstrating continued delivery on our commitments. [We have achieved] record annual production for both [metallurgical] and thermal coal. We have exceeded our cost cutting targets for the year and announced or completed US$ 3.5 billion of non-core asset sales. These actions, together with lower capital expenditure in 2013 and beyond, will ensure that Rio Tinto is well positioned to deliver greater value to shareholders.”


In 2013, Rio Tinto’s production of Australian semi-soft and thermal coal increased significantly during the year compared with 2012, with four mines (Hunter Valley, Mount Thorley Warkworth, Bengalla and Clermont) achieving annual records. The substantial production increase was delivered through a transformation programme of productivity improvements, the completion of brownfield mine developments and the ramp up of the Clermont thermal coal mine.

Full year hard metallurgical coal volumes from Rio Tinto’s Australian operations were marginally lower than in 2012. Coal recovery work at Hail Creek has been successfully completed following a geotechnical low wall failure, which occurred in July. The US$ 2 billion extension of the Kestrel mine was officially opened in October, adding 20 years to the life of the operation.

The company also announced that it had completed drilling exploration in the Bowen Basin (Queensland, Australia), at the Winchester South, Hillalong and Kemmis Creek projects.

On 25 October 2013, Rio Tinto reached a binding agreement for the sale of its 50.1% interest in the Clermont Joint Venture to GS Coal, a company jointly owned by Glencore Xstrata and Sumitomo Corp., for US$ 1.015 billion. The transaction is expected to complete in Q1 2014.

Semi-soft and thermal coal production in Q4 was lower than the same period in 2012. Thus resulted from the mine sequencing at Mount Thorley Warkworth and Hunter Valley operations, as well as from the closure of the Blair Athol mine in November 2012, which is now in the process of being sold.

Hard metallurgical coal production increased by 23% compared to Q4 2012, with reduced impacts from maintenance and upgrade stoppages.


In Mozambique, full year volumes were higher than in 2012, as production at the mine continues to ramp up. Hard metallurgical coal production in Mozambique increased by 200%, while thermal coal production rose by 80%.

Rip Tinto holds mining and exploration licenses in the Moatize Basin in the Tete province of Mozambique. The company manages the Zambeze project, the Tete East project, the Benga mine, as well as the Zululand Anthracite coal mine.

In November, the company admitted concerns over security in the country and withdrew the families of expat employees. It cited an increase in kidnapping and fighting between government and rebels.

Coal operations continued, however, and Rio Tinto said the withdrawal was temporary. “The safety of employees and their families is the number one priority. Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique’s operations will continue as planned, including shipments of coal.” 

Adapted from press release by Sam Dodson

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