The Boyne Smelter, which increased production during 2015.
The Boyne Smelter, which increased production during 2015. Christopher Chan GLA200412BSLT

Rio Tinto's production increases despite low prices

WHILE the global aluminium market is struggling with low prices, Rio Tinto's Queensland bauxite, alumina and aluminium operations have all increased production in 2015.

When announcing the company's fourth quarter results, Rio chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio Tinto remained focused on operating and commercial excellence against the industry's "challenging market backdrop".

"In 2015, we delivered efficient production, meeting our targets across all of our major products, while rigorously controlling our cost base," he said.

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"We will continue to focus on disciplined management of costs and capital to maximise cash flow generation throughout 2016."

Alumina production from the company's QAL and Yarwun plants in 2015 totalled 6.61 million tonnes, an increase of 355,000 tonnes from the 2014 total of 6.256 million tonnes.

The QAL plant produced 3.747 million tonnes, up from the 2014 total of 3.568 million tonnes, and the Yarwun plant produced 2.864 million tonnes, up from the previous year's 2.688 million tonnes.

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Total global production of alumina including the company's alumina plants in Brazil and Canada in 2015 was 11.837 million tonnes. The 2014 total was 1.212 million tonnes, but that included the company's Gove plant in the Northern territory which was closed down in May 2014.

Rio's Boyne Smelter produced 579,000 tonnes in 2015, an increase from the 2014 total of 553,000 tonnes.

The company's Australian smelters, in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania, produced a total of 1.349 million tonnes, while the global total for Rio was 4.898 million.

A total of 43.7 million tonnes of bauxite was produced during 2015, a four per cent increase on 2014, with record production from the company's Weipa mine and a ramp-up of the Gove mine, which has now reached production and export capacity of eight million tonnes per annum of dry bauxite.

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