Rio Tinto to place up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore into the spot market in 2008
1 Please refer to previously announced resources in the Rio Tinto 2006 Annual report
and financial statements
Rio Tinto to place up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore into the
spot market in 2008
18 December 2007
Rio Tinto has announced plans to place up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore into the spot
market in 2008.
Rio Tinto announced at its Investor Seminar on 26 November 2007 that it is planning
substantial expansions of capacity over the next decade in its Western Australia Pilbara
operations. This will allow the Group to place substantially more tonnage on to the
higher-priced spot market while continuing to meet longer-term contractual commitments.
Rio Tinto has been active in the spot market during 2007 and in December sold one
million tonnes at US$190 per tonne. A similar volume has been sold for January shipment
at an average price of US$187 per tonne. This compares with the current equivalent
benchmark price of US$85 per tonne (FY2007 FOB benchmark plus spot freight).
“The iron ore market is changing”, said Tom Albanese, chief executive of Rio Tinto.
“Customers are demanding more transparency in pricing and more tonnes, faster than
ever before. Our industry-leading growth pipeline in iron ore puts us in a strong position
to benefit from stronger prices, now and in the future.”
Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto’s chief executive Iron Ore, said, “The bulk of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara
capacity is committed under long term contracts and Rio Tinto will continue to honour
these contracts. At the same time the gap between the benchmark and spot prices is
huge and we intend to continue to take advantage of those higher prices”.
Mr Walsh said the iron ore market was extremely tight. “We produce more tonnes at
lower cost, from locations closest to the growth iron ore markets. We believe in
competitive and transparent pricing, and our production expansion plans give us the
capacity to supply all of our markets and allow us to agree prices for all durations.”
This announcement follows the 26 November 2007 Investor Seminar outlining Rio Tinto’s
conceptual pathway to iron ore production of more than 600 million tonnes per year,
including 420 million tonnes a year from the Pilbara.
At that time Rio Tinto also announced a US$2.4 billion commitment to develop the Mesa
A and Brockman 4 iron ore deposits in the Pilbara, as well as outlining plans to increase
the potential capacity of its Simandou iron ore project in Guinea (West Africa) to 170
million tonnes per year.
The existing Pilbara rail and port infrastructure secures Rio Tinto’s position as the premier
Australian iron ore supplier, allowing it to reap maximum benefit from a strong pricing
outlook, Mr Walsh said. “We own and operate three ports in two locations, and we have
the capability to expand these facilities well beyond the existing levels.”
Notes to editors:
Rio Tinto believes that efficient short, medium and long term contracts need to
exist in the iron ore industry. At its Investor Seminar on 26 November 2007, Rio Tinto
outlined its intention to operate a mix of three pricing approaches:
. Short-term spot sales;
. Hybrid contracts – which are based around a frequent pricing adjustment to
reflect fair market value. As at November 2007, Rio Tinto had signed some
6.5 million tonnes per annum of hybrid contracts; and
. Long-term contracts with regular re-pricing.
By way of sensitivity, the current difference between the spot iron ore price and the price
of iron ore delivered pursuant to 2007 term contracts is about US$100 per tonne. On
15 million tonnes this would equate to US$1.5 billion of revenue before tax
This announcement is one component of this approach.
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining
Rio Tinto plc, a London listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the
Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products
are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals
(borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly
represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America,
Asia, Europe and southern Africa.
This announcement includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section
27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical
facts included in this announcement, including, without limitation, those regarding Rio
Tinto’s financial position, business strategy, plans and objectives of management for
future operations (including development plans and objectives relating to Rio Tinto’s
products, production forecasts and reserve and resource positions), are forward-looking
statements. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks,
uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or
achievements of Rio Tinto, or industry results, to be materially different from any future
results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking
Such forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions regarding Rio
Tinto’s present and future business strategies and the environment in which Rio Tinto will
operate in the future. Among the important factors that could cause Rio Tinto’s actual
results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the forwardlooking
statements include, among others, levels of demand and market prices, the ability
to produce and transport products profitably, the impact of foreign currency exchange
rates on market prices and operating costs, operational problems, political uncertainty
and economic conditions in relevant areas of the world, the actions of competitors,
activities by governmental authorities such as changes in taxation or regulation and such
other risk factors identified in Rio Tinto’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed
with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or Form 6-Ks
furnished to the SEC. Forward-looking statements should, therefore, be construed in light
of such risk factors and undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking
statements. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this
announcement. Rio Tinto expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking (except as
required by applicable law, the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Takeover
Code”), the UK Listing Rules, the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial
Services Authority and the Listing Rules of the Australian Securities Exchange) to release
publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein to
reflect any change in Rio Tinto’s expectations with regard thereto or any change in
events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
Nothing in this announcement should be interpreted to mean that future earnings per
share of Rio Tinto plc or Rio Tinto Limited will necessarily match or exceed its historical
published earnings per share.
Subject to the requirements of the Takeover Code, none of Rio Tinto, any of its officers or
any person named in this announcement with their consent or any person involved in the
preparation of this announcement makes any representation or warranty (either express
or implied) or gives any assurance that the implied values, anticipated results,
performance or achievements expressed or implied in forward-looking statements
contained in this announcement will be achieved.