Rio Tinto Sees Battery Metal Demand Supported by EV Sales Jump -- Commodity Comment

Rio Tinto PLC (RIO), the world's second largest mining company by market value, on Friday cut its 2021 shipment and output guidance for commodities including iron ore, citing setbacks including labor shortages and plant disruptions. Here are some remarks from its report.

On iron-ore supply:

"Aggregate shipments of the major seaborne suppliers are trending flat year-on-year and are not expected to regain their 2018 levels for the third consecutive year. Higher-cost operations which were incentivized by elevated prices have started to reassess their viability."

On battery metals:

"Demand for battery materials has been well supported by electric vehicle growth with global sales up 151% in the first seven months of 2021. Electric vehicle adoption is being driven by all major automotive markets and benefiting from improved model variety together with the introduction of subsidies in many markets."

On the aluminum market:

"Aluminum prices rallied to multi-year highs, driven by extensive power-related smelting cuts in China, and concerns over bauxite supply from Guinea. Physical markets remained very tight on firm demand and logistical supply issues, resulting in regional premia reaching new highs in both the U.S. and Europe."

On global trade:

"The global economy continues to recover, with vaccination rates steadily increasing and global trade flows recovering. While governments continue to provide active support, we remain watchful of the risks that threaten to disrupt some of the progress already achieved. Risks related to commodity supply and demand are heightened due to supply chain bottlenecks as well as material and energy shortages."

On its Australian iron-ore operations:

"Pilbara iron ore production of 83.3 million [metric] tons (100% basis) was 4% lower than the third quarter of 2020 due to heritage management, brownfield mine replacement tie-ins and project completion delays. This also resulted in an increase of SP10 production in the third quarter that will continue into the fourth quarter. We now expect Pilbara shipments to be 320 to 325 million tons (previously at the low end of 325 to 340 million tons) following modest delays to completion of the new greenfield mine at Gudai-Darri and the Robe Valley brownfield mine replacement project due to the tight labor market in Western Australia."

Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com


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  10-14-21 1920ET
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