Rio Tinto Q3 report: aluminium production slightly down

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Rio Tinto has released Q3 2019 results. Here the aluminium-related figures:

Aluminium production of 0.789m tonnes was 3% lower than in the third quarter of 2018, primarily reflecting a preventive safety-driven shutdown at one of the three pot-lines at the Isal smelter in Iceland and earlier than planned pot relining at Kitimat in British Columbia, Canada. The Isal issue has been resolved and will result in an estimated 21,000 tonnes production loss compared to last year, of which 17,000 tonnes was in the third quarter.

The Quebec and Pacific smelters continue to perform well, says Rio, with third quarter and year to date production 1% higher than the same periods last year. This excludes the non-managed Becancour JV where the restart is progressing well, following a lock-out, with full ramp-up expected by mid-2020.

In the first nine months of the year aluminium production amounted to 2.388m tonnes, down 1% year-on-year.

Third quarter bauxite production was 9% higher than the same period of 2018, with increased production across all sites. Rio Tinto shipped 10.4m tonnes of bauxite to third parties, 23% higher than the same period of 2018.

Third quarter alumina production was 7% below the same period of 2018. Production at Yarwun was lower due to an extended 35-day shutdown, which included a planned five-year maintenance service of the cogeneration plant. Normal production has since resumed at Yarwun. Production at the Queensland Alumina non-managed JV was impacted by maintenance activities, with the site expected to ramp back to full capacity during the fourth quarter.

A project using industry-leading filter press technology to move to bauxite residue dry stacking and extend the life of the Vaudreuil refinery in Quebec is being commissioned in October. The project commenced in February 2018 and will be commissioned six weeks ahead of plan and under its budget of $188m (C$250m).

“The aluminium industry continues to face challenging conditions in global markets and policy uncertainty, reflected in declining prices. We are focusing on enhancing the competitiveness of our smelters, including discussions with our Pacific stakeholders on energy pricing, to ensure the sustainability and global competitiveness of our Pacific smelters”, says Rio Tinto.

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