Rio Tinto's (ASX:RIO) output fall blamed on skill shortage & bad weather

Company News

by Lauren Evans

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has been plagued by a fall in shipments and production over the year that has been attributed to a skills shortage. However, financial year 2022 guidance was broadly in line.

For the quarter, the mining giant had it tough with above average rainfall, cultural heritage management and delays with replacement tie-in projects impacting on output.

Iron ore production over last year fell 4 per cent from the prior year to 319.7 million tonnes, while Pilbara shipments fell 3 per cent from the prior year to 321.6 million tonnes. 

Bauxite production fell 3 per cent from the prior year to 54.3 million tonnes due to severe wet weather in the first quarter, while aluminum production was 1 per cent lower than the prior year to 3.2 million tonnes due to reduced capacity at its Kitimat smelter in British Columbia. Meanwhile, mined copper production of 494 thousand tonnes was 7 per cent lower due to lower recoveries and throughput at Escondida as a result of the prolonged impact of Covid-19.

Rio said the safety and well-being of its employees and contractors remains their priority. Fatigue, labour shortages and other pressures from Covid-19 have heightened the safety risk in day-to-day operations and has reminded them that there is no room for complacency.

“In 2021 we continued to experience strong demand for our products while operating conditions remained challenging, including due to prolonged Covid-19 disruptions,” said chief executive Jakob Stausholm.

“In the fourth quarter we set a new direction for the company and announced a number of partnerships focused on decarbonising the value chain for our products, including green steel. We also entered into a binding agreement to acquire the Rincon lithium project in Argentina, which is strongly aligned with our strategy.”

“These actions will ensure we continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, and progress our ambition to net-zero carbon emissions."

Shares in Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) are trading 1.3 per cent lower at $108.58. 

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