Australia’s Rio Tinto and its biggest competitor for the title of the world’s top iron ore exporter, Brazil’s Vale, have both fallen short of expectations in the first quarter as mine issues and setbacks mount.
Rio produced 71.7Mt, down 6% on the first quarter of 2021, and well below analysts’ expectations, with shipments of 71.5Mt 8% lower than the same period in 2021.
That leaves the Pilbara major way behind early doors on its guidance of 320-335Mt for 2022, with delays to the ramp up of Gudai-Darri and commissioning failures at its Robe Valley wet plant-marred production levels.
The delays were in part blamed on resource shortages and supply chain quality issues like steel fabrication linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 43Mtpa Gudai-Darri mine was due for completion in late 2021, but is now on track for commissioning in the second quarter. Rio says its product mix and production volumes will increase through the second half of the year as the project ramps up.
Issues with the pace of the ramp up at Gudai-Darri have forced Rio to sell a larger mix of its SP10 fines product, up 157% year on year to 7.5Mt in the March quarter.
Its flagship Pilbara Blend product sales were down 16% YoY for lump and 24% YoY for fines to 10.8Mt and 21.7Mt, respectively.