Rio Tinto plc Reports Copper Production Up 23%

The shares of Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) (NYSE: RIO.US) rallied 87p to 3,172p during early trade this morning after the miner said it had achieved “strong” production results for the third quarter.

The FTSE 100 member said production of mined copper had increased by 23% during July, August and September to 162,300 tonnes, while iron ore production had advanced 2% to 68,300 tonnes to set a new quarterly record.

Rio also stated its aluminium production had improved by 8% to 878,000 tonnes while production of semi-soft and thermal coal had climbed 14% to surpass 7 million tonnes.

However, the group admitted production of hard coking coal and titanium dioxide feedstock had fallen by 6% and 7% respectively during the three months.

Rio added that its production guidance for the Kennecott Utah copper mine had been raised to 185,000 tonnes for 2013, and that total mined copper for the year should come in at 590,000 tonnes.

Sam Walsh, Rio’s chief executive, said:

We maintained good progress against our strategic priorities to improve the performance of our businesses, strengthen the balance sheet and deliver our approved growth projects. We are also making further important gains in productivity across our operations and continue to drive costs out of the business.

Prior to today, City experts were expecting Rio to report earnings of 305p per share and declare a 114p per share dividend for 2013. Those projections currently support a near-term P/E of 10.4 and a possible yield of 3.6%.

Of course, whether that valuation, today's quarterly production update and the general prospects for the mining sector all currently combine to make Rio Tinto a 'buy' right now is something only you can decide.

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> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.