Australian-based mining giant Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; ASX: RIO) reported Q4 operational results today showing weak production and shipment volumes across almost all of its major commodities.

The world’s second largest metals and mining company by market cap, Rio Tinto has operations across the globe but is mainly focused on Australia and Canada. Its Canadian operations are primarily a result of its acquisition of Canadian aluminium company Alcan for $38 billion in 2007.

Rio Tinto reports production and shipment volumes across its various mining segments quarterly but only reports financials on a semi-annual basis. Rio Tinto is expected to release full year 2019 results on Feb. 26, 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Rio Tinto reported its flagship iron ore production shrank 3% year over year and was also down 4% over the previous quarter.


The best performing business was Bauxite, growing 28% over the last year.

“We finished the year with good momentum, particularly in our Pilbara iron ore operations and in bauxite, despite having experienced some operational challenges in 2019. We are increasing our investment, with $2.25 billion of high-return projects in iron ore and copper approved in the fourth quarter. We also boosted our exploration and evaluation expenditure to $624 million in 2019, further strengthening our pipeline of opportunities. Rio Tinto CEO, J-S Jacques

The company also performed poorly in its other mining operations showing aluminium and copper production shrinking by 4% and 9% respectively compared to the same quarter last year.

The poor performance in iron ore production the past quarter may be offset by a significant increase in pricing. The company reported that the average realized price for its Pilbara iron ore was $79/wmt, FOB, up 37% compared to last year.

The company also released 2020 production guidance with only minimal expected production increases on most materials except for copper and diamonds for which the company expects production to slow slightly next year.

With iron ore prices on an upward trend at the moment Rio Tinto Group’s stock price has been on the mend as well. The stock has mostly recovered from a sell-off in July last year when it announced a delay to its Oyu Tolgoi underground copper project in Mongolia. Rio Tinto’s stock traded up 0.27% during the day today and is trading flat in after-hours trading shortly after releasing its Q4 operations review at the time of publishing.

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