Rio Tinto's Q2 iron ore shipments have risen 1.5 per cent on strong demand from China. Image by Alan Porritt/AAP PHOTOS

Mining and Resources

Rio Tinto seeing China demand recovery

2020-07-18 10:52:39

Rio Tinto has reported a 1.5 per cent rise in iron ore shipments for the second quarter and says demand for the steelmaking ingredient is improving in China as its economy recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.

The world’s largest iron ore miner shipped 86.7 million tonnes of the commodity in the quarter ended June 30, beating analyst estimates, and up from 85.4 million tonnes a year earlier.

Demand for iron ore has remained resilient this year, even in the face of an unfolding global recession, as Beijing ramps up infrastructure spending to combat the shock from the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our iron ore assets are performing well in a strong pricing environment and we are on track to meet our 2020 iron ore guidance,” Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said.

Iron ore typically accounts for more than 80 per cent of Rio’s underlying earnings.

The miner said conditions in China had improved across the second quarter and appeared to be stabilising, with construction and infrastructure sectors performing well.

Rio, however, cautioned that a second wave of infections remains a key threat for advanced economies.

Iron ore output stood at 83.2 million tonnes, 4 per cent higher from a year earlier. 

The global miner reported stronger-than-expected mined copper output despite an earthquake at its Utah operations. 

Total mined copper production of 132,800 tonnes beat consensus estimates of 114,000 tonnes, and was down just 3.0 per cent on a year ago.

Bauxite production at 14.6 million tonnes, was up 9 per cent from last year while aluminium output stood at 785,000 tonnes, down 2 per cent from 2019.

By 1050 AEST, Rio Tinto shares were up 0.7 per cent at $104.20 each.