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Rio Tinto has ended 2023 with a mined copper production of 620,000 tonnes, a two per cent increase on 2022 production.

The copper production reflects Rio’s first sustainable production from its Oyu Tolgoi underground copper mine in Mongolia, offsetting challenges faced at Kennecott in Utah due to a conveyor failure.

“We benefited from our increased ownership in Oyu Tolgoi as the underground ramps up,” Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said.

“We have one of the most exciting exploration pipelines in years, including our new copper joint venture with Codelco, launched in December.”

It was also a strong quarter for Rio Tinto iron ore, with the company’s Pilbara operations producing 331.5 million tonnes, two per cent higher than in 2022.

The Gudai-Darri mine in Newman, WA, ramped up to its nameplate capacity of 43 million tonnes per annum within 12 months of commissioning.

“There is good demand for the materials we produce, and our purpose and long-term strategy make more sense than ever,” Stausholm said.

The work we are doing today is creating a stronger Rio Tinto for years to come, as we invest in profitable growth while continuing to deliver attractive shareholder returns.”

Safety was another highlight for Rio, recording its fifth consecutive year fatality free. However, two permanent disabling injuries were recorded at Rio sites in 2023.

“We were fatality free for the fifth consecutive year at our managed operations but we remain vigilant and continue to learn from safety incidents,” Stausholm said.