- Mining company Rio Tinto said its fourth-quarter iron ore production from Australia's Pilbara region rose 3% year-on-year, helping it to boost annual production by 2%.

Output of the key steelmaking ingredient in the three months through December increased to 86.0 million tones, though output was flat compared to the third quarter.

Shipments rose 2% year-on-year and by 8% compared to the third quarter.

Among other commodities, fourth-quarter bauxite production dropped 12%, aluminium production rose 4%, mined copper production fell 4% and titanium production fell 5%, all on a year-on-year basis.

Rio Tinto said iron ore production from the Pilbara was strong in 2020, despite impacts from cyclone Damien in the first quarter and Covid-19 disruptions.

For 2021, the company guided for iron ore shipments of 325 million-to-340 million tones, compared to 331 million tons in 2020.

Bauxite output was seen at 56 million-to 59-million tones, compared to 56 million in 2020; aluminium at 3.1 million-to-3.3 million tons, compared to 3.2 million in 2020; and mined copper at 500,000-to-550,000 tons, compared to 528,00 in 2020.

Chief executive Jakob Stausholm said Rio Tinto had delivered a strong safety and operational performance in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Safe and well-run operations, together with world-class assets and a strong balance sheet, leave Rio Tinto well placed to generate superior returns for shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, while continuing to pay taxes and royalties in our host communities and make a broader contribution to society, including employment and procurement,' he said.

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