Rio Tinto has experienced a tough first quarter this year, with wet weather, labour shortages and heritage mine site controversy. Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said: “We achieved an overall solid operating performance in the first quarter. We have maintained guidance ranges in all our products, with site teams successfully managing the effects of significant rainfall, in particular at our Australian iron ore assets.
“It has been a period of deep reflection for the company, and I have personally spent a significant amount of time listening, learning and taking actions, in particular, to better manage Traditional Owner partnerships and cultural heritage. I have appointed a new leadership team and the transition is progressing well. We have set out clear priorities to develop a stronger Rio Tinto. Our focus is to become the best operator, strive for impeccable ESG credentials, excel in the development and secure a strong social licence. This ambition will enable us to continue to deliver superior returns to shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, and make a broader contribution to society.”
According to the First Quarter Operations Review 2021, Pilbara iron ore shipments of 77.8 million tonnes (100% basis) were 7% higher than the first quarter of 2020. Production of 76.4 million tonnes (100% basis) was 2% lower, driven by above-average wet weather in the mines through February and fixed plant reliability. Labour resource availability and weather challenges disrupted maintenance. Tropical Cyclone Seroja impacted mine and port operations in April. Full-year iron ore guidance remains unchanged.
Bauxite production of 13.6 million tonnes was 2% lower than the first quarter of 2020 due to wet weather in Eastern Australia. The port at the Amrun mine closed for 14 days due to large swells and cyclones. Full-year bauxite guidance remains unchanged.
Health, safety and well-being remains Rio Tinto’s top priority. All injury frequency rate (AIFR) of 0.35 improved versus the first quarter of 2020 (0.40). However, there is no room for complacency and continue to focus on providing strong support for employees, contractors and host communities, while maintaining critical COVID-19 controls.
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