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Rio Tinto cuts FY'17 copper output guidance due to Escondida ramp-up delays

Rio Tinto revised down its full-year mined copper guidance to between 460,000 and 480,000 tonnes, from 500,000 to 550,000 tonnes previously, due to the delayed ramp-up of an expansion project at its Escondida operations in Chile and the impact of mine sequencing changes at Rio Tinto Kennecott.

The company produced 120,600 tonnes of copper during the third quarter, down 3% on a yearly basis due to lower head grades at Rio Tinto Kennecott and Oyu Tolgoi.

Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore shipments and production in the quarter rose 6% and 2% year over year, respectively, to 85.8 million tonnes and 85 million tonnes, reflecting productivity enhancement projects across most sites. The company's full-year guidance for Pilbara shipments remains unchanged at about 330 million tonnes.

Bauxite production increased 4% to 12.9 million tonnes in the period, driven by strong performances at Gove in Australia's Northern Territory and Weipa in the state of Queensland. The miner lifted the bauxite production guidance to between 50 million and 51 million tonnes, from 48 million to 50 million tonnes previously.

Aluminum output slid 3% to 887,000 tonnes in the quarter, on the back of production curtailment at the Boyne Island smelter in Queensland due to higher power prices and lower output at the Sohar smelter in Oman due to a power interruption incident in August resulting in a cessation of operations. Alumina production was flat year over year at about 2 million tonnes.

Production of hard coking coal rose 3% to 2.24 million tonnes, as operations normalized at Hail Creek following the impact of Cyclone Debbie earlier in the year

Semi-soft coking coal production declined 58% to 445,000 tonnes due to the sale of its Coal & Allied Industries Ltd., coupled with sequencing changes at the Hunter Valley and the Mount Thorley and Warkworth mines in New South Wales, Australia. Thermal coal output, meanwhile, slid 13% on a yearly basis to 3.8 million tonnes.

Following the divestment of Coal & Allied, Rio Tinto's expected full-year production for thermal coal has been revised down to 13 million to 14 million tonnes, from 17 million to 18 million tonnes earlier, while semi-soft coking coal guidance has been lowered to 2.0 million tonnes, compared to between 3.3 million and 3.9 million tonnes previously.