Rio Tinto update Sept. 28th, 2021
ISIN: GB0007188757, AU000000RIO1
Rio Tinto is a very profitable mining company with revenues of 65 bn$/yr. and a strong emphasis on iron ore. Nearly 60% of the revenues and 76% 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 at the LSE and Australia.
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.
While the management emphasizes ideology the production numbers were flat or slightly declining. iron ore production H1/21 vs. H1/20 -5%, copper - 11%.
The production cost guidance of 1 ton iron ore increased from previously $16.7-17.7 2021 to $18.0-$18.5 per tonne. On the other hand the spot prices for iron ore increased to bejond 200$/ton.
The price developments of the markets provide Rio an unprecedented profitability. Rio will generate an extraordinary cash flow and dividends in 2021. A net profit of 15$/share provides a P/E of 5.5 (share price 83$).
Opportunities and Risks
The corona panic seems not to show a significant influence on Rio Tinto. Due to the strong iron ore demand from China on the one side and ongoing production disturbance in Brazil iron prices are on a record high and Rio earns very well with iron ore. That means the company depends completly on iron ore.
A main reason to buy in Rio is the shareholder friendly dividend It is paid out 100% as the share is registered in the UK.
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 till next year which provides a high profitability to Australian iron ore miners.
A risk is the Simandou project - the development of the biggest iron ore deposit in Africa. It would add a third big source of iron ore to the duopol of Australia and Brazil. If there are no delays - which is unlikely - it might start production in 2025.
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 >1/2 on developing projects. That means it seems likely Rio will replace the depletion of its 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 outclass other mines. It seems questionable if it justifies 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 did as well increase the number of female board members as part of a gender initiative to please left ideologic investors (54).
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 spending for green nonsense "$1 billion climate-related spend over five years" seems to remain liveable.
Simandou is the biggest known and not developed iron ore deposit in the world wirh estimated resources of 10bn tons of minable ore. It is situated in Guinea (West Africa), approximatly > 2bn tons of ore in the blocks co-owned by Rio. It is divided into four blocks, with blocks 1 and 2 controlled by a consortium backed by Chinese and Singaporean companies, while Rio Tinto and Aluminum Corp. of China own blocks 3 and 4. Chinese backed companies started work on tunnels necessary to connect Simandou with the coast in march while negotiations are ongoing (66). The project will go in production 2025 at earliest. 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. Chinas motivation to develop this deposit are mainly to diversify its iron ore supply and decrease the dependence on iron ore from Rio and Vale. 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 high political risk - a military coup in sept 21 - and to invest 20bn$ in Africa is a big risk. Some Rio managers working on this project are subject to corruption investigations (African business habits). Hence Rio is evaluating options how to develop it or better to delay the development in the best way. African politics and business habits are more efficient in preventing it than Rio.
The Koodaideri iron ore mine in Australia investment 2.6 bn$ is planned to replace depleting reserves in other australian mines.
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 since > 10 years. It is blocked since long by left groups plus left wing law makers.
Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine is a combined open pit and underground mine in Mongolia. The open pit is already in production with a production of 146 300 t/y in 2019. The underground is even more promising. It is under construction. The investment is estimated at 6.75 bn$. The underground is expected to start production in oct. 2022. Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce 480 000 t/y of copper on average from 2028 to 2036 from the openpit and underground. The underground ore reserve has an average copper grade of 1.52%, which is more than three times higher than the openpit ore reserve, and contains 0.31 g/t of gold. There is always trouble with the Mongolese political system (from (60)). 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. Rio reports an inferred mineral resource for Winu of 503M metric tons of ore grading at 0.45% copper equivalent and includes a higher-grade component of 188M tons of ore with a 0.68% copper grade (59). Total 3.5 mio. tons of copper. That is an annual production of 150.000tons for 20 yrs. Rio Tinto plans to reach first production at the Winu copper-gold project in Western Australia in 2023, and is progressing discussions with the Traditional Owners to achieve this (56)(59).
A Lithium project is studied near the town of Loznica, in western Serbia. Depending on politics 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 Paterson copper/gold project is in a early stage,
BHP Group and Vale
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
Iron Ore 2019 USGS Data
2021/13/09 The US congress plans a bill to block the Resolution copper mine (65)
2021/03/08 Rio Tinto has spent over $500 million to develop the Greater Tom Price iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region (62).
2021/02/08 The Mongolia seeks deal with Rio Tinto to end Oyu Tolgoi expansion
Crazy politics is not a privilege of saturated western countries but as well wellknown to other parts of the world.
It remembers me very much on the African cycle as mentioned in earlier comments on this subject.
2020/03/16 Rio Tinto that underground work - mine expansion - has been slowed at its Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia due to restrictions that Mongolian authorities have put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Government restriction on expats.
2020/02/18 Rio Tinto reduced its iron ore production guidance for 2020 to 324M-334M metric tons 2020, down from previous guidance 330M-343M mt. (53)
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).
(65) 2021, Sept 13 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3739199-us-house-bill-seeks-to-block-huge-arizona-copper-mine?mail_subject=rio-u-s-house-bill-seeks-to-block-huge-arizona-copper-mine&utm_campaign=rta-stock-news&utm_content=link-1&utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha
(61) 2021 Feb, 8 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3659498-mongolia-seeks-deal-with-rio-tinto-to-end-oyu-tolgoi-expansion-ft?mail_subject=rio-mongolia-seeks-deal-with-rio-tinto-to-end-oyu-tolgoi-expansion-ft&utm_campaign=rta-stock-news&utm_content=link-1&utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha
(59) 2020 July 28 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3595629-rio-tinto-declares-maiden-resource-australias-winu-project?utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha&mail_subject=rio-rio-tinto-declares-maiden-resource-at-australia-s-winu-project&utm_campaign=rta-stock-news&utm_content=link-1
(58) 2020 April 17 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3561548-rio-tintos-quarterly-iron-ore-shipments-rose-despite-cyclone-hit?utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha&mail_subject=rio-rio-tinto-s-quarterly-iron-ore-shipments-rose-despite-cyclone-hit&utm_campaign=rta-stock-news&utm_content=link-1
(57) 2020 March 5 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3549075-china-to-approve-developing-giant-simandou-iron-ore-mine-bloomberg?utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha&mail_subject=rio-glcnf-china-to-approve-developing-giant-simandou-iron-ore-mine-bloomberg&utm_campaign=rta-stock-news&utm_content=link-1
(55) 2020 Feb 26 file:///C:/Users/holge/Downloads/RT-Annual-results-2019-slides.pdf
(53) 2020, Feb 18 https://seekingalpha.com/news/3542517-rio-tinto-trims-iron-ore-shipments-guidance-after-cyclone?utm_medium=email&utm_source=seeking_alpha&mail_subject=rio-rio-tinto-trims-iron-ore-shipments-guidance-after-cyclone&utm_campaig
(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/