Rio Tinto has released its fourth quarter production results, highlighting strong demand amid challenging operating conditions.
The Rio Tinto Safe Production System (RTSPS) was initiated at five pilot sites, focusing on sustainably unlocking capacity across the system.
The company confirmed a third consecutive year with no fatalities at its managed operations and entered into several partnerships to accelerate decarbonisation and the value chains it operates in.
2021 was also marked with the agreement to acquire the Rincon lithium project in Argentina from Rincon Mining for $825 million – one of the largest undeveloped lithium brine projects in the world.
As far as production is concerned, Pilbara iron ore production of 319.7 million tonnes (100% basis) was 4% lower than 2020, while shipments in 2021 were 321.6 million tonnes (100% basis), 3% lower than 2020.
Bauxite production of 54.3 million tonnes was 3% lower than 2020, while aluminium production of 3.2 million tonnes was 1% lower than 2020.
Decreased production, the company said, is a result of various reasons, including unfavourable weather conditions and technical and human factors.
Due to complications with the Jadar lithium-borate project in Serbia, the company is now revising development timelines, with first saleable production expected to be no earlier than 2027.
“In 2021 we continued to experience strong demand for our products while operating conditions remained challenging, including due to prolonged COVID-19 disruptions. Despite this, we progressed a number of our projects, including the Pilbara replacement mines, underlining the resilience of the business and the commitment and flexibility of our people, communities and host governments,” said Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm.
“We are seeing some initial positive results from the implementation of the Rio Tinto Safe Production System, which we will significantly ramp up in 2022, as we continue to work hard to improve our operational performance to become the best operator.”
“In the fourth quarter we set a new direction for the company and announced a number of partnerships focused on decarbonising the value chain for our products, including green steel,” Mr Stausholm said.
“We also entered into a binding agreement to acquire the Rincon lithium project in Argentina, which is strongly aligned with our strategy. These actions will ensure we continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders, invest in sustaining and growing our portfolio, and progress our ambition to net-zero carbon emissions.”