Rio Tinto has maintained its 2016 guidance for iron ore shipments at 350 million tonnes after lifting June quarter volumes by six per cent from a year ago, helped by expanded infrastructure and unwinding of stocks in Western Australia.
The world's second largest iron ore producer said it shipped 82.2 million tonnes from its main Pilbara operations in the three months ending June 30, taking total first half shipments to 158.9 million tonnes.
Quarterly production of the steelmaking ingredient was up eight per cent to 80.9 million tonnes, giving it 160.8 million tonnes of output in the first half of the year.
"We continue to focus on value and maximising cash flow from our assets, through both commercial and operational excellence while maintaining capital discipline," newly-appointed chief executive Jean Sebastien Jacques said.
While the quarterly numbers are an improvement over last year, they are nearly similar to the first quarter, which had been marred by weather disruptions. That means the miner will have to significantly lift production in the remaining two quarters to meet its full year guidance.
Rio expects to ship 330 million tonnes this year from its operations in Western Australia, and another 20 million tonnes from its Canadian facilities. It had trimmed its 2017 guidance of 350 million by up to 20 million tonnes in April because of delays in the AutoHaul driverless trains project in the Pilbara.
Iron ore, the company's key export, is currently trading around $US56 a tonne, but has still lost more than two thirds from its peak value.
Thermal coal production in the quarter was up six per cent to 4.3 million tonnes, while hard coking coal production was down 14 per cent to 1.80 million tonnes.
Bauxite production jumped 13 per cent from a year ago to 12.07 million tonnes, while aluminium production rose 11 per cent to 911,000 tonnes.
The company has maintained its annual guidance for coal, bauxite, aluminium and copper production.