Rio Tinto Jumps On Q2 Increases In Iron-Ore And Copper

Michael Teague  |

Shares for Rio Tinto Plc. (RIO) , the world’s second largest mining company, were up nearly 4 percent on Tuesday to as high as $43.95 after reporting strong second-quarter operations results.

The London-based $78 billion firm said that global iron ore shipments were up 1 percent on the prior-year period, while production had increased 7 percent. The company’s copper mining operations had increased by 10 percent, while aluminum was also up 7 percent.

The figures for iron ore were particularly impressive, with production at 51.8 million metric tons during the second quarter, a significant increase on the prior year’s 48.6 million tons, and ahead of estimates of 51.2 million. The increase was driven in large part by the newly expanded output capacity at its Australian Pilbara mine, which remained on budget and on schedule despite difficult weather conditions and technical difficulties.

But Rio also made gains in copper production throughout the quarter, with mined production up to 146,000 tons, coming in ahead of forecasts of 138,000 tons. The rise has been attributed to recovery in grades at its Kennecott Utah mine, as well at its Escondida mine in Chile. The company managed to quickly bounce back from an accident at its Bingham Canyon mine, when a slide last April caused no injuries but hampered production.

While the accident is expected to cost the company 100,000 tons of mined copper and 75,000 tons of refined copper for the year, both figures represent a 25,000 ton improvement over the estimates originally given following the incident. July also saw the company making its first shipments of copper from its $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, after a disagreement with that country’s government had temporarily stalled operations.

While the stock is down nearly 26 percent on the year, the last week has seen shares gain almost 6 percent. Today’s news also benefitted other mining stocks, with Vale S.A. (VALE) jumping 2.65 percent to $13.91 and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) up 2.5 percent to $62.38.

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