Although in the midst of unprecedented friction with China, its largest buyer, Rio Tinto said today its iron ore production reached record levels in the third quarter and increased shipments to all major markets, including China.
Releasing the group's third quarter 2009 operations review today, the world's third largest miner said that its global iron ore production set a new quarterly record and was up 12 per cent compared with the third quarter of 2008.
Chief executive Tom Albanese said, "We are seeing early signs of a recovery in some of our key markets, although we remain cautious about the near-term outlook. Our businesses continue to operate efficiently: iron ore production set a new quarterly record, with shipments to China maintained at a high level.''
Iron ore production at Pilbara was 57 million tonnes, up 18 per cent on the third quarter of 2008, reflecting strong iron ore markets with the mines consistently operating at above capacity rates, said the company.
With iron ore being the biggest contributor to Rio's earnings, the miner had said in July that iron ore production was up eight per cent in the second quarter of 2009 compared with the same quarter of 2008 and Pilbara iron ore production was 53 million tones, up 11 per cent reflecting that the operations was running at full capacity. (See: Rio Tinto beats trend in iron ore production in Q2 2009).
Rio Tinto, had suspended talks on the acrimonious 2009 iron ore benchmark contract price negotiations with Chinese steel mills even as Beijing restored to buying record volumes of iron ore from Rio Tinto and the spot market.