July 16, 2020 / 11:56 PM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 2-Rio Tinto posts strong Q2 iron ore shipments, sees China demand recovery

(Adds details, analyst comment)

MELBOURNE July 17 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto on Friday reported a 1.5% rise in iron ore shipments for the second quarter and said demand for the steelmaking ingredient was improving in China as its economy recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.

The world’s largest iron ore miner shipped 86.7 million tonnes of the commodity in the quarter ended June 30, beating a Vuma consensus of 84.1 million tonnes, and up from 85.4 million tonnes a year earlier.

“Iron ore, then maybe copper, ali (aluminium), all of those were in line or better. I don’t think you can get too upset with the quarterly - time to move on,” said analyst Glyn Lawcock of UBS.

Demand for iron ore has remained resilient this year, even in the face of an unfolding global recession, as Beijing ramps up infrastructure spending to combat the shock from the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our iron ore assets are performing well in a strong pricing environment and we are on track to meet our 2020 iron ore guidance,” Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said.

Iron ore typically accounts for more than 80% of Rio’s underlying earnings.

The miner said conditions in China had improved across the second quarter and appeared to be stabilising, with construction and infrastructure sectors performing well.

Rio, however, cautioned that a second wave of infections remains a key threat for advanced economies.

The global miner reported stronger-than-expected mined copper output following an earthquake at its Utah operations. Total mined copper production of 132,800 tonnes beat consensus of 114,000 tonnes, and was down just 3% on a year ago.

Iron ore output stood at 83.2 million tonnes, 4% higher from a year earlier. Bauxite production at 14.6 million tonnes, was up 9% from last year while aluminium output stood at 785,000 tonnes, down 2% from 2019.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok and Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Aditya Soni and Richard Pullin

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