Rio Tinto Chief Executive J-S Jacques said “We have delivered a good operational performance across most of our assets catching up on planned maintenance activity, particularly in iron ore, and continuing to adapt to new operating conditions as we learn to live with COVID-19. We have maintained our capex guidance and our 2020 production guidance across our key products. “We are focused on regaining the trust of …

Rio Tinto Chief Executive J-S Jacques said “We have delivered a good operational performance across most of our assets catching up on planned maintenance activity, particularly in iron ore, and continuing to adapt to new operating conditions as we learn to live with COVID-19. We have maintained our capex guidance and our 2020 production guidance across our key products.

“We are focused on regaining the trust of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people (PKKP) with a focus on remedy. On Tuesday 13 October we wrote a letter to Traditional Owners in the Pilbara detailing that we will review all heritage disturbance in consultation with them; and shared our intention to modernise our agreements which includes modifying clauses to ensure respect, transparency and mutual benefit.

“Rio Tinto has shown great resilience through challenging conditions and will continue to prioritise the health and safety of our employees, contractors and communities. The quality of our assets, coupled with our strong focus on capital discipline and value over volume approach, mean we can continue to invest in our business, support our communities, pay taxes and royalties to host governments and continue to generate superior returns to shareholders in the short, medium and long term.”

Production*

Q3
2020

vs Q3
2019

vs Q2
2020

9 MTHS
2020

vs 9 MTHS
2019

Pilbara iron ore shipments (100% basis)

Mt

82.1

-5

%

-5

%

241.7

0

%

Pilbara iron ore production (100% basis)

Mt

86.4

-1

%

+4

%

247.4

+2

%

Bauxite

Mt

14.5

+5

%

-1

%

42.8

+7

%

Aluminium

kt

797

+1

%

+2

%

2,365

-1

%

Mined Copper

kt

129.6

-18

%

-2

%

395.4

-10

%

Titanium dioxide slag

kt

293

-9

%

+12

%

848

-8

%

IOC iron ore pellets and concentrate

Mt

2.3

-21

%

-15

%

7.7

-4

%

*Rio Tinto share unless otherwise stated

Q3 Operational update

  • Our All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) of 0.35 has improved through 2020 versus 2019 (0.42). We have successfully adapted our assets and offices to the new operating conditions associated with COVID-19 and we continue to closely manage this risk to protect our people and communities.
  • Pilbara operations are returning to more normal operating conditions with rosters back to pre-COVID-19 settings although controls to protect our employees, contractors and communities remain in place. Total material moved was a record for the quarter with Pilbara iron ore production of 86.4 million tonnes (100% basis), 1% lower than the third quarter of 2019. A recovery in planned maintenance activity in the port led to 5% lower shipments.
  • Bauxite production of 14.5 million tonnes, 5% higher than the third quarter of 2019, with increased year on year production across all sites, including record quarterly production at the non-managed CBG joint venture in Guinea.
  • Aluminium production of 0.8 million tonnes in the third quarter was 1% higher than the third quarter of 2019 with stable operations across our smelter portfolio.
  • Third quarter mined copper was 18% lower than the same period of 2019 due to lower grade at Kennecott as a result of pit sequencing to accommodate the extended smelter shutdown. Refined copper was 57% lower, primarily due to delays in restarting the Kennecott smelter.
  • On 19 August, we announced an update to our refined copper guidance following delays to the restart of the smelter at Kennecott due to unexpected issues following planned maintenance. The safe start-up of the smelter has commenced and consistent with the announcement, we expect that it will be fully operational during October. 2020 guidance for refined copper remains at 135 to 175 thousand tonnes.
  • On 28 August, we noted Turquoise Hill Resources’ (TRQ) publication of its ‘2020 Oyu Tolgoi Technical Report’ (2020 OTTR) in relation to the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) project in Mongolia. All estimates are subject to potential changes once the definitive estimate is complete, which is still expected later in 2020. Preliminary indications from the definitive estimate process are that first sustainable production is trending towards the earlier months of the October 2022 to June 2023 range. The estimated development capital cost remains within the range of $6.6 to $7.1 billion, and has now been updated to include known impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information can be found in the Investments, growth and development projects section below.
  • On 10 September, we announced we had entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TRQ, that provides a pathway to progress the financing for completion of the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project in Mongolia and address TRQ’s funding position.
  • Titanium dioxide slag production of 293 thousand tonnes was 9% lower than the third quarter of 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec and South Africa and lower market demand.
  • Production of pellets and concentrate at Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) was 21% lower than the same period of 2019 due to an annual maintenance shutdown deferred from June to September as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions. A weather related power failure and mechanical issues also impacted production in the third quarter.

The full third quarter production results are available here

This announcement is authorised for release to the market by Rio Tinto’s Group Company Secretary.

LEI: 213800YOEO5OQ72G2R82

Classification: 3.1 Additional regulated information required to be disclosed under the laws of a Member State

media.enquiries@riotinto.com
riotinto.com

Media Relations, United Kingdom
Illtud Harri
M +44 7920 503 600

David Outhwaite
T +44 20 7781 1623
M +44 7787 597 493

Media Relations, Americas
Matthew Klar
T +1 514 608 4429

Media Relations, Asia
Grant Donald
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M +65 9722 6028

Media Relations, Australia
Jonathan Rose
T +61 3 9283 3088
M +61 447 028 913

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M +61 433 525 739

Jesse Riseborough
T +61 8 6211 6013
M +61 436 653 412

Investor Relations, United Kingdom
Menno Sanderse
T +44 20 7781 1517
M +44 7825 195 178

David Ovington
T +44 20 7781 2051
M +44 7920 010 978

Clare Peever
M: +44 7788 967 877

Investor Relations, Australia
Natalie Worley
T +61 3 9283 3063
M +61 409 210 462

Amar Jambaa
T +61 3 9283 3627
M +61 472 865 948

Group Company Secretary
Steve Allen

Rio Tinto plc
6 St James’s Square
London SW1Y 4AD
United Kingdom
T +44 20 7781 2000
Registered in England
No. 719885

Joint Company Secretary
Tim Paine

Rio Tinto Limited
Level 7, 360 Collins Street
Melbourne 3000
Australia
T +61 3 9283 3333
Registered in Australia
ABN 96 004 458 404

Category: General

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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