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Rio Tinto 2015 coal production drops

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World Coal,

Record production at Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek, Hunter Valley and Bengalia operations could not make up for the loss of production at the Clermont mine, as the company’s output of thermal coal dropped 13% in 4Q15 and 4% for the year.

The Anglo-Australian mine sold its 50.1% interest in the Clermont mine to Glencore and Sumitomo last year for US$1 billion. The mine had produced 5.9 million t for Rio Tinto in 2013 but this dropped to 2.4 million t in 2014 with no production in the last two quarters of the year.

Hail Creek saw its production of thermal coal jump from just 157,000 t in 2013 to 1.9 million t in 2014 as the company focused on the power plant fuel over hard coking coal “to deliver increased margins in the current price environment.” Output at its Hunter Valley operations also jumped from 8.8 million t to 9.5 million t, while at Bengalia output rose to 2.7 million t from 2.6 million t.

Overall, thermal coal production totaled 21.5 million t for the year, down from 22.5 million in 2013. Taking out Clermont production, however, and the company’s other mines recorded a 15% rise in output.

Production of metallurgical coal also dropped with hard coking coal output down from 8.2 million t to 7.5 million t and semi-soft coking coal production down from 3.9 million t to 3.2 million t.

Production at Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique totaled 801,000 t (both thermal and metallurgical) – down from just over 1 million t in 2013. In October of last year, the company announced the sale of its Mozambique assets to a consortium of Indian buyers for US$50 million.

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