Rio Tinto scales back, lowers iron ore guidance for 2015
Mining powerhouse Rio Tinto is scaling back on its 2015 iron ore guidance, cutting exports from 350 million tons to 340 million tons due to weather conditions in the outback.
The Anglo-Australian miner said "uncharacteristically severe weather" was to blame for the reduction as it expects to ship less iron ore than initially thought from its networks of mines in northwest Australia this year.
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"Heavy inland rains reduced truck utilization, resulting in lost production at the mines and impacting [on] the ability to rail planned tons [to port]," the company said last week.
“Around seven million tons of shipping capacity was lost directly at the ports due to uncharacteristically severe weather.”
Despite the reduction, Rio produced 79.7 million tons of iron ore and shipped 81.4 million tons in the June quarter.
Rio Tinto, the world’s lowest-cost producer of iron ore, said its ultimate goal is to produce 360 million tons annually from Western Australia’s Pilbara region, which could occur sooner than thought. The company said the infrastructure expansion to facilitate the increased capacity in Pilbara has now been completed.
"Our combination of world-class assets, financial strength and operating and commercial excellence provides a sound base to continue to generate sustainable returns for our shareholders," the company said in a statement.
“The focus is now to ramp up the new equipment to full capacity and generate maximum value from the integrated system.”
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To achieve its new guidance set last week, Rio Tinto will need to accelerate its export rate in the second half of 2015. According to Citi analyst Clarke Wilkins, it will be a challenge.
"It will still be a challenge for them to achieve guidance for the second half of the year but they should be able to get there," he said.
In July, prices for iron ore dipped into the danger zone for most miners, falling below $50 a ton.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”