Rio Tinto Pilbara iron ore shipments take a hit after safety concerns

Rio Tinto’s has shipped 81.9 million tonnes of iron ore in the September quarter, a 5 percent decline on the same period last year due to maintenance and safety pauses across several operations.

In August, a fatal incident involving a Rio truck operator was reported at the Channar iron ore mine in the Pilbara in Western Australia. This led to shutdowns at the site.

The company also had a tragic incident in South Africa. In July, a serious incident at Rio’s Richards Bay Minerals mining operation resulted in the fatality of a security contractor.

This has led to a decline in the titanium dioxide slag production (297Mt), which was 9 per cent lower than the third quarter of 2017, but 28 per cent higher than the previous quarter following production ramp-up after the disruptions.

Despite these concerns, Rio remained positive in its ability to hit the 2018 Pilbara shipment guidance of 330–340Mt.

Chief executive J.S. Jacques attributed Rio’s “consistent” operational performance in the third quarter to a strong copper production.

Rio’s mined copper rose 32 per cent from the 2017 equivalent, amounting to 159,700 tonnes during the September quarter.

In the effort to prioritise worker safety, Rio continues to transform its mine operations and adopt digital technology to remove workers from hazardous environments.

Rio’s world-first autonomous train program in the Pilbara, AutoHaul, now runs at an average rate of 34 trains per day, and is expected to go into full implementation by the end of this year.

The major miner has committed to zero harm, which encompasses fatality prevention, injury and illness reduction and catastrophic event prevention across its global sites.

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