MAC: Mines and Communities

Rio Tinto boss: Corona Virus second wave is "inevitable"

Published by MAC on 2020-07-19
Source: The Evening Standard (2020-07-17)

Rio Tinto boss warns of second Corona Virus wave

Evening Standard (London)

17 July 2020


The boss of mining giant Rio Tinto on Friday warned that a second wave of
coronavirus was inevitable, casting a cloud over the outlook for
commodities markets.

Jean-Sebastien Jacques said: “The uncertainty in the marketplace is
because there is no doubt — it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of
when — we will have a second wave of Covid-19.”

His comments came as Rio Tinto reported a mixed second quarter
performance, with strong iron ore and bauxite demand supported by the
V-shaped economic recovery in China, the world's biggest raw materials
consumer.

Jacques told Bloomberg: “I’m not quite sure on what letter of the alphabet
I should pick for the other countries. We are starting to see some signs
of recovery in construction and automotive in the U.S. and in Europe, but
it is slow.”

The world's second largest miner has seen weakness in the US copper
market, while the aluminium sector has been hit by the struggles of the
car making industry. Rio is not expecting much in Europe and Japan, where
it said recoveries have yet to begin meaningfully and are likely to be
subdued when they do get underway.

Supply disruptions caused by Covid-19 lockdowns are still affecting 3% to
4% of the world's annual copper supply, on top of the normal industry
disruptions.

The company's copper output fell 3% in the second quarter compared with a
year earlier, although Rio's overall production guidance for 2020 remains
unchanged across all commodities.

The demand recovery in China meant Rio reported a 1.5% rise in iron ore
shipments in the three month period, beating analyst expectations at 86.7
million tonnes. Beijing has bolstered infrastructure spending in the wake
of the pandemic, leading to increased demand for the steelmaking
ingredient.

Iron ore accounts for about 80% of Rio's underlying earnings.

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