Rio Tinto update Jan 17th, 2020
Rio Tinto is a very profitable mining company with revenues of 40.5 bn$/yr. and a strong emphasis on iron ore. Nearly 1/2 of the revenues and > 60% of the profits of Rio are generated by the iron ore mining in Australia. The remainder are an aluminium and a copper business. The aluminium business has the lowest profit margin. The company is a dual national company listed at the LSE (PLC 1,259,393,573 shares) nd Australia (Ltd 410 mio. shares) (oct. 04th,2019).
Following the cancellation of the Ordinary Shares repurchased, the Company will have 1,259,393,573 Ordinary Shares in issue. To the extent that further Ordinary Shares are repurchased under the programme, these will also be cancelled.
This is not a recommendation or proposal to do anything. The data written in this article is not guarranteed. It is my private personal opinion. I`m not independing as I own a position of Rio Tinto shares.
Opportunities and Risks
A main reason to buy in Rio is the shareholder friendly dividend, an interim dividend of 1.73$/share plus a final dividend of perhaps 1.6 $ that is paid out 100% as the share is registered in the UK. It adds a share buy back program and the low PE. A share price of 70$ could be appropriate for Rio. The business develops according to the iron ore demand which is driven by China (1/2 of the world wide steel production). It means the opportunites depend on the chinese economy and its development. It effects Rio`s revenue and profit situation decisivly.
Due to a tailing dam break at a Vale mine in Brazil and the shut down of other mines the Vale production will be about 10% lower in the next 3 years. The Australian iron ore production reached record sales with 826 mio to in 17/18 an annual increase of 8.5%. Investment in Austalian iron ore mining reached 6.1bn$ in new projects and 5.5bn$ other investment (20). The production increase in Australia will compensate the lower brazilian production. All in all the estimated 2019 iron ore price might by at average in the high 60ies ($/ton). That means Rio`s iron ore revenues could reach 2019 >24bn$ and a 72% EBITDA margin.
Rio did divest its coal business, the Grasberg mine and got a lot of cash for it in 2018. The actual high iron ore It seems probable that Rio will invest it in the copper business. It is to hope they will wait for a good opportunity. If not Rio will probably either start a new share buy back program or pay an extra dividend for 2019 as well or both of them.
The main risk is the dependence on China. China did already arrest Rio managers in China as there was a dispute on Rio`s iron ore pricing politics. Actually it looks like iron ore prices are tumbling lower on fears of a cooling of the chinese economy due to the trade dispute with the USA (8).
Rio spends about 6 bn$ annually on capex. This capex is mostly spent to sustain the actual equipment, reserves and it seems that it is not sufficient to compensate the depletion of reserves.
A major risk is the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia. Since a couple of years Rio is in trouble with the government blocking the further expansion of the mine. I guess that the compliance rules does not allow Rio to smoothen the relation to the government. The risk is that Mongolia will block the mine completly (26). The copper/gold grades of this mine of 0.46% Q2/19 vs. 0.57% in Q1/19 and gold head grade of 0.31g/t vs. 0.58g/t in Q1/19 (44) seem not in line with the political risk.
Rio does not always follow the business logic. The highly profitable coal business which was a diversification from the dependence on the iron ore business was divested recently. Rio is as well going to divest its uranium business (1)(7). The uranium business is becoming divested in an environement of low prices which means Rio will not get a lot for it. I assume that pressure from Blackrock?? and green comunist groups (climate hoax?) did motivate Rio to do this steps against business logic. A more hungry Management would be an opportunity.
Rio is like many other companies affected by NGO that buy a few shares, forward bids to decrease CO2 emissions of Rio and its chinese customers (24). Left media gives such events a lot of attention.
The biggest known and not developed iron ore deposit is situated in Guinea (West Africa), approximatly > 2bn tons of ore. The main challenge that kept miners from developing it till today is the necessity to connect it to the ocean to bring the iron ore on the market. The total investment including a railway is estimated to 20 bn. $ (Rio). Owners of the project are actually Guinea, Chinalco and Rio. As expectations on demand are not rising anymore Rio tried so sell its stake of 45% (3). On the one hand there is no industrial benefit for Rio or Vale to develop this deposit as both miners have plenty of reserves in their existing developed fields. Africa is always a political risk and to invest 20bn$ in Africa is a big risk. Some Rio managers working on this project are subject of corruption investigations (African business system). On the other hand if it is developed by chinese miners the main customer China could replace imports from Rio and Vale by mined ore from Guinea and get in a better position vs. the western miners. Hence Rio is evaluating options how to develop it or better not to develop it in the best way (39).
The Koodaideri iron ore mine in Australia investment 2.6 bn$ (9)(10)(23) is a new projects in the pipeline (status approval). Another one is the Oyu Tolgoi underground project.
The Resolution Copper Project in Arizona that should produce 1/2 million tons of copper - about 3bn$ revenues/yr over 40 years is a major project (29). It is a 55% Rio/45% BHP project in its permitting phase.
Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine is in trouble the government plans to renegotiate the conditions (45). The expansion project (underground mining) in Mongolia is in trouble as well. Due to geological issues the will not start producing copper until between May 2022 and June 2023, a delay of 16-30 months. The capital cost of the project increased to $6.5B-$7.2B, up from an original estimate of $5.3B (43). The main question is if western miners with its compliance rules can make business in the future in such countries or is chinese, russian countries only.
The Winu copper exploration project in the Paterson province in the state’s north in Australia is very promising. Potentially it is developed faster than die Resolution project.
A Lithium project is studied near the town of Loznica, in western Serbia. The decision is planned to be met in 2020. If it is a go a head decision production could start in 2023.
In the long run, 8 - 10 years, the La Granja project in Peru might become a major copper asset for Rio (see news).
The remainder does make s.o. enthusiastic.
The Paterson copper/gold project is in a early stage,
BHP Group and Vale
Revenues: 20.7 bn$ H1/19
Free cash Flow: 3.9 bn$ H1/19, 7 bn$ 2018
Net Earning: 4.13 bn$ H1/19, 13.6 bn$ (including divestments!) 2018
Capex: 2.4 bn$/H1 19 1/2 on development projects, Capex expected to be around $6.0 billion in 2019 and around $6.5 billion in 2020 and 2021. 2.5 bn of it is necessary for sustaining operations.
Net debt: 4.86 bn$ H1/19, 8 bn$ (2018)
Underlying net earning: 8.8bn $.
EPS/share: 2.51$ H1/19, 7.88$ 2018 (800m write down Oyu Tolgoi h1/19)
Dividend19: 151c (interim) + 61c (special dividend) paid sept. 19
Aluminium production 2019 3.17 mio. tons (52), 2018: 3.5 mio to av. realized price 2470$/to (23) about 8.6 bn$ revenue.
Alumina production: 8.0 mio to (2018) 474$/to, guidance 8.1 - 8.4 mio. to 2019 (20)(23)
Bauxit Production 2019 55 mio. tons, 2018: 50.4 mio to, 38.7$/to
Copper Production 2019 0.577 mio. tons, 2018: 0.634 mio. about 3.6 bn $ revenue ,
Uranium Production (2018) 3.014 million pounds U3O8 (1158 tU) in 2018,(18) about 950 mio. $ revenue. The Roessing uranium mine is sold to China National Uranium Corporation
Estimated Diamond production: 18 mio Karat (2018) Guidance 2019 15 - 17 mio carat. (23)
Titan Dioxide Production 2019 1.21 mio. tons, 2018: 1.1 mio to.
Iron Ore 7,552 5,685 33 %
Aluminium 1,127 1,831 (38)%
Copper & Diamonds 1,213 1,360 (11)%
Energy & Minerals 954 1,008 (5)%
Other operations (88) (27) (226)%
Product group total 10,758 9,857 9 %
Iron Ore 4,506 3,231 39 %
Aluminium 315 871 (64)%
Copper & Diamonds 348 450 (23)%
Energy & Minerals 341 464 (27)%
Other operations (80) (67) (19)%
Product group total 5,430 4,949 10 %
It was iron ore only that achieved positive numbers. Rio depends mostly on it.
Shareholders (marketscreener (4) oct.2018)
Name Equities %
Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. Chinalco 182,550,329 14.1%
BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd. 86,772,665 6.68%
Capital Research & Management Co. (Global Investors) 41,121,233 3.17%
The Vanguard Group, Inc. 33,616,000 2.59%
Legal & General Investment Management Ltd. 28,707,000 2.21%
BlackRock Fund Advisors 27,173,000 2.09%
Capital Research & Management Co. (World Investors) 21,139,570 1.63%
Standard Life Investments Ltd. 17,449,000 1.34%
UBS Asset Management (UK) Ltd. 16,634,583 1.28%
M&G Investment Management Ltd. 13,961,000 1.08%
Name % Valuation
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TRQ) 1,021,966,440 50.8% 2,166,568,853 USD
Entree Resources Ltd (ETG) 16,566,796 9.50% 6,295,382 USD
MINERA IRL LIMITED (MIRL) 44,126,780 19.1% 2,206,339 USD
The Iron Ore Production (mio. tons iron content) 2017 (6)
United States 28
World total (rounded) 1,500
2019/11/27 and 2019/12/03 Rio Tinto and First Quantum Minerals had early stage talks about a development of La Granja, one of Peru's biggest untapped copper projects. Rio won the right to develop La Granja in 2005 but has not made a final investment decision; although the project has the potential to be one of the world's biggest copper mines, the deposit is rich in arsenic, so the material would need to be processed before being sent to smelters(50). Other issues are the scarcity of water in the region that is needed for processing and a resisting local population (51). Perhaps it will need as well additional infrastructure as the area is 1000 Km away from the capital.
2019/11/22 The Oyu Tolgoi copper mine is owned by the Turquoise Hill Resources 66% - Rio owns a majority of it - and the Mongolian government that owns 34% under investment terms agreed in 2015. Mongolian lawmakers approved plans to revise the deal, hoping to add benefits for ordinary citizens (themselve?). The recommendations approved by parliament include replacing the 34% interest with a special royalty and bringing forward the date - currently set at 2041 - when Mongolia begins receiving dividends.
I love socialist governments that change laws with backwardation!
2019/11/05 Rio Tinto completes Oyu Tolgoi Shaft 2 construction
Rio Tinto announced that it had completed the sale of its entire interest in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia as part of a series of transactions involving Inalum (PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Persero)), Indonesia’s state mining company, and Freeport McMoRan Inc. Total proceeds from the transaction were $3.5 billion, including $0.1 billion for the 2018 attributable metal share of 25.9 thousand tonnes of copper and 266.7 thousand ounces of gold, net of the capital contribution for the year. (23)
Vale said yesterday (Jan 29, 2019) it would take as much as 10% of its output offline as it decommissions a total of 19 dams over three years, a move that would cut up to 40M tons of iron ore production this year.(22) It is nearly 3% of the annual iron ore production.
Rio has to close down the Ranger uranium mine starting end of 2020 as the Aborigines does not extend the mine operation permission bejond begin of 2021. It produced 2000to UO2 in 2018. That means revenues of 220 mio. $ (contract prices). Ranger’s rehabilitation program requires a further $296 million, taking the initial provision from $512 million up to $808 million (16).
Due to a requirement of the mongolian government Rio is asked to etablish a power plant for its large copper mine in Mongolia. The construction at the 300 megawatt plant for Oyu Tolgoi is scheduled to start in 2020, and commissioning is expected mid-2023.(14)
Rio plans a going public for the Canadian iron ore mines in H1 2019. The target value of this business is about 4 bn$ (13).
Rio sold its stake in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia due to a pressure from the government for a nationalization for 3.5 bn$. (12)
Rio sold its European Alu smelters, France, Island. I assume that their cost competitivness is lower than the Canadian operations (11).
(51) 2019, dec. 3 https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/features/la-granja-peru/
(34) 2019, May 15 http://www.mining.com/rio-tinto-plans-start-mining-lithium-serbia-2023/
(29) 2019, April 15th https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/rio-tinto-bhp-copper-project-tops-2bn-value/
(24) 2019, March 18 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3443635-rio-tinto-rejects-bid-reveal-emission-targets?app=1
(23) 2019, Feb. 11 https://www.riotinto.com/documents/190118_Rio_Tinto_releases_fourth_quarter_production_results.pdf
(22) 2019, Jan 30 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3427435-iron-ore-price-spikes-vales-production-cut-set-disrupt-market?app=1
(21) 2019, Jan 23 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/western-australia-drives-mining-comeback/
(20) 2019, Jan 18 https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/metals/011819-rio-tinto-to-raise-alumina-bauxite-output-in-2019
(19) 2019, jan 18 https://www.investegate.co.uk/rio-tinto--rio-/rns/rio-tinto-fourth-quarter-production-results/201901180700024447N/
(18) 2019, jan 18 World Nuclear News WNN News Jan 18, 2019
(17) 2019, jan 17 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3424101-rio-tinto-2018-iron-ore-production-rises-2-percent-copper-output-jumps-33-percent?app=1
(16) 2019, jan 11 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/energy-resources-of-australia-makes-step-toward-ranger-rehabilitation/
(15) 2019, jan 09 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3421836-iron-ores-jump-75-ton-not-sustainable-goldman-warns?app=1
(14) 2019, jan 01 https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/alliance-news/detail/1546247461458960300.html
(13) 2018, dec 24 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3419096-reuters-rio-tinto-planning-dual-list-canadian-iron-ore-unit-early-2019?app=1
(12) 2018, dec 22 http://www.stockmarketwire.com/article/6255239/Rio-Tinto-completes-sale-of-Grasberg-mine-in-Indonesia-for-3-point-5bn.html
(11) 2018, dec. 17 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/rio-tinto-offloads-aluminium-smelter-to-liberty-house/
(10)2018, nov 29 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/rio-tinto-inks-3-5-billion-investment-koodaideri/
(9) 2018, nov. 28 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3412995-rio-tinto-approves-2_6b-high-tech-western-australia-iron-ore-mine?app=1&dr=1#email_link
(8) 2018, nov 26 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3412020-china-iron-ore-steel-tumble-multi-month-lows-rout-continues?app=1&dr=1#email_link
(7) 2018, nov. 26 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3411988-rio-tinto-sell-african-uranium-mine-chinese-buyer-106_5m?app=1
(6) 2018, nov. 12 https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/2018/mcs2018.pdf
(5) 2018, nov. 12 http://www.riotinto.com/documents/181112_Presentation_JS_UBS_conference.pdf
(4) 2018, nov 6th https://www.marketscreener.com/RIO-TINTO-9590196/company/
3. oct. 29, 2018 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/rio-tintos-simandou-purchase-agreement-lapses/
oct 17, 2018 http://www.mining.com/rio-tinto-delays-start-oyu-tolgoi-expansion-due-technical-issues/