Mining giant Rio Tinto ended 2014 having shipped a record 302.6 million tonnes of iron ore, 17% higher than the year before.
Actual production was 295.4 million tonnes, 11% higher.
Major producers, including Rio and BHP, have been increasing output despite prices for iron ore dropping 47% in 2014 to about $66 a tonne.
More capacity is coming online with the $10 billion Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara due to open in 2015 against a backdrop of easing demand from China.
Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said a successful year of production was capped off with a robust fourth quarter.
“Output is in line with our targets across all of our major products,” he said in the company’s production update. “In a challenging market Rio Tinto remains focused on operating and commercial excellence to leverage our low cost position and maximise value for shareholders.”
Results for 2014:
- Mined copper production was 4% higher than last year, driven by the sustained ramp-up at Oyu Tolgoi. This ramp-up, along with higher grades at both Oyu Tolgoi and Kennecott, resulted in a 69% increase in mined gold production over 2013.
- Global bauxite production was temporarily reduced by 3% in 2014 as Gove transitions to bauxite exports following the curtailment of the refinery in May 2014.
- Aluminium production in 2014 was broadly in line with 2013, despite the closure of Shawinigan in November 2013 and the partial shutdown at Kitimat, which continues to prepare for full commissioning of the modernised smelter during the first half of 2015. Eight smelters, representing 54% of 2014 production volumes, achieved annual production records.
- Significant productivity gains across the Australian coal business delivered annual site production records at Hail Creek in Queensland, Hunter Valley Operations and Bengalla. Excluding production from the Clermont mine which was divested during the year, thermal coal production increased by 15% (2.5 million tonnes) in 2014 compared to 2013.