Rio Tinto is aiming to lift its performance in the Pilbara region in the second half of the year after recording a 9 per cent fall in iron ore production during the June quarter.
The company produced 75.9 million tonnes of iron ore from its Western Australian sites during the second quarter of 2021.
At the same time, shipments from the region were down 12 per cent on last year’s second quarter, at 76.3 million tonnes.
Rio Tinto chief executive officer Jakob Stausholm explained the company’s shortfalls, but said it aimed to be better going forward.
“The global economy, in particular China, recovered strongly and we are intensely focused on servicing our customers with as much product as we can,” Stausholm said.
“However, we faced some challenges in the first half notably at our Pilbara operations, which were impacted by replacement mine tie-ins and materially higher rainfall.”
Ongoing pandemic impediments were partly to blame for these under par result, according to the company.
“Heightened COVID-19 constraints, which resulted in numerous travel restrictions, added further pressure on the business and limited our ability to access additional people, particularly in Western Australia and Mongolia, in order to deliver operational improvements or maintenance initiatives and accelerate projects,” Stausholm said.
The company claimed that ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and a tight labour market had further impacted its ability to access experienced contractors and particular skill sets.
On operational safety, Stausholm was optimistic for the future of the company under his watch despite the June quarter challenges.
“Safety is our first priority and our performance in this area remains robust in challenging conditions. However, as identified shortly after my appointment, operationally we are not where we want to be,” he said.
“Our first-half performance has reaffirmed my belief that we have identified the right priorities to strengthen the business: to become the best operator, strive for impeccable ESG credentials, excel in development and secure a strong social licence.”