Rio Tinto lowers production guidance as the tight labour market in Western Australia bites

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Rio Tinto PLC (LSE:RIO) has lowered full-year production guidance after running into difficulties at its massive Pilbara operations in Australia.


The FTSE 100 mining giant now expects Pilbara shipments will be between 320mln and 325mln tonnes this year; previously, the company had given a guidance range of 325-340mln tonnes.


The downgrade is because of modest delays to the completion of the new greenfield mine at Gudai-Darri and the Robe Valley brownfield mine replacement project due to the tight labour market in Western Australia.


Pilbara shipments in the third quarter of 2021 were 83.4 million tonnes, 9% higher than the prior quarter and 2% higher than the third quarter of 2020.


Pilbara iron ore production of 83.3 million tonnes was 4% lower than the third quarter of 2020 due to heritage management, brownfield mine replacement tie-ins and project completion delays.


“It has been another difficult quarter operationally and despite improving versus the prior quarter, we recognise the opportunity to raise our performance. We have consequently modestly adjusted our guidance,” said Jakob Stausholm, the chief executive officer of Rio Tinto.


Shares in Rio Tinto were down 2.0% at 5,007p in the first hour of trading.

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