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Rio Tinto - Changes to Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves

RNS Number : 3929P
Rio Tinto PLC
17 February 2021
 

Changes to Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves

 

17 February 2021

 

Rio Tinto today announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) the following changes to estimates of Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves:

·      Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves at Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore deposits in Western Australia;

·      Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves at Rio Tinto Aluminium (RTA) Pacific Operations' Weipa and Gove assets in Australia; and

·      Mineral Resources at the Kennecott Copper operation in Utah.

The updated estimates will be included in Rio Tinto's 2020 Annual Report which will be released to the market by 22 February 2021.  Today's announcements to the ASX were made in accordance with the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves, 2012 (JORC Code) and the ASX Listing Rules. Mineral Resources are reported in addition to Ore Reserves. Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves are quoted on a 100 per cent basis.  Rio Tinto's Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves as at 31 December 2020, and Rio Tinto's interests, will be set out in full in its 2020 Annual Report.

Copies of each of the full releases to the ASX are available on Rio Tinto's website at riotinto.com/financial-news-performance/resources-and-reserves.

Iron Ore Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves

Resource drilling campaigns from 2006 - 2019, and subsequent technical work, including a review of heritage sites in late 2020 have contributed to the changes in the following Pilbara iron ore Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves:

Table A - Material Changes to Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves 2020


Material changes to Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves

Arrowhead / Rhodes Ridge

Update to the Mineral Resources (all Inferred) for Arrowhead and Rhodes Ridge Main has increased Mineral Resources for the Rhodes Ridge JV by:

·      76 Mt of Detrital Ore.

·      202 Mt of Marra Mamba Ore.

·      240 Mt of Brockman Process Ore.

·      418 Mt of Brockman Ore.

In addition there are other small net increases at other Rhodes Ridge JV deposits (Marra Mamba and Detrital).

Poonda

Initial declaration of a Mineral Resource (Inferred) for Poonda has increased Mineral Resources for Hamersley Iron by:

·      532 Mt of Boolgeeda Formation ore.

Western Range

Drilling, in conjunction with a new geological model and updates to the Resource classification, pit designs, and certain heritage sites at the Western Range 36w-50w deposit have resulted in the following Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve changes for Hamersley Iron:

·      Overall Mineral Resource has increased by 13 Mt:

Measured Mineral Resource has decreased by 39 Mt.

Indicated Mineral Resource has increased by 8 Mt.

Inferred Mineral Resource has increased by 44 Mt.

·      Overall Ore Reserve has decreased by 42 Mt (note 1 Mt discrepancy below due to rounding):

Proven Ore Reserve has decreased by 65 Mt.

Probable Ore Reserve has increased by 24 Mt.


 

Changes in Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020 are shown below in Table A and Table B respectively.

Table B - Aggregate changes to Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore Mineral Resource estimates

between 31 Dec 2019 and 31 Dec 2020 (100% basis)


Dry product (Mt)

2019 Mineral Resources

23,004

Arrowhead / Rhodes Ridge increases

938

Poonda increases

532

Net amount of other changes

310

2020 Mineral Resources

24,784

 

Table C - Aggregate changes to Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore Ore Reserve estimates

between 31 Dec 2019 and 31 Dec 2020 (100% basis)


Dry product (Mt)

2019 Ore Reserves

3,332

Western Range decreases

-42

Net amount of other changes (including depletion)

-240

2020 Ore Reserves

3,050

 

Iron ore Ore Reserves are reported as dry product tonnes.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations Ore Reserve and Mineral Resource Estimates

The RTA Pacific Operations Ore Reserve estimate has decreased by 305 Mt, from 1,530 Mt to 1,224 Mt.  The reduction in Ore Reserve estimate is associated with a routine review of price assumptions over the life of the mine.  There has been no material change to the economic cut-off methodology or process.  The application of the updated pricing assumptions has removed lower quality material from the Ore Reserve estimate.  There has been no material change to the other reserve modifying factors, including: governmental, tenure, environmental, cultural heritage, social, community or operational.

RTA Pacific Operations Mineral Resources exclusive of Ore Reserves has increased by 128 Mt, from 1,949 Mt to 2,077 Mt (This includes 1,330 Mt of Inferred Resource at North of Weipa, which remains unchanged from 2019). The increase was mainly due to changes in the forecast pricing assumptions used in the reserving process. Those blocks removed from the 2020 Ore Reserve that are physically located above or below the remaining economic blocks have also been removed from the Mineral Resource.

Mineral Resources at Kennecott Copper

There are significant additional Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources at the Kennecott Copper operation.  These Mineral Resources are contained within the Bingham Canyon copper, gold, and molybdenum porphyry deposit and would be mined by a northernly expansion of the open pit located 41 km southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Total Mineral Resource increase reported at an economic margin is 243 Mt at 0.55% copper equivalent (CuEq), an increase of 577%. The additional Mineral Resources potentially add about four years of mine life to the Bingham Canyon open pit if converted to Ore Reserves through additional study.  As announced in 2019, work is currently underway to extend production at Kennecott to 2032.

A full tabulation of the changes in Mineral Resource from 2019 to 2020 is provided in Table D, including the additions of Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource based on Order of Magnitude (OoM) study open pit phase designs and optimised economic cut-off grade constrained within the resource shell.

Table D: Mineral Resource changes for Bingham Canyon Open Pit


Measured Resources


Mt

CuEq (%)

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

Ag (g/t)

Resources at 31 December 2019

14

0.63

0.46

0.13

0.031

1.90

Additions

114

0.66

0.46

0.25

0.018

2.15

Resources at 31 December 2020

128

0.65

0.46

0.24

0.020

2.12


Indicated Resources


Mt

CuEq (%)

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

Ag (g/t)

Resources at 31 December 2019

18

0.58

0.44

0.15

0.017

2.21

Additions

124

0.46

0.31

0.16

0.016

1.38

Resources at 31 December 2020

142

0.46

0.33

0.16

0.016

1.48


Inferred Resources


Mt

CuEq (%)

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

Ag (g/t)

Resources at 31 December 2019

11

0.36

0.22

0.24

0.003

2.18

Additions

5

0.38

0.29

0.14

0.002

1.12

Depletions

1

0.18

0.13

0.07

0.002

1.25

Resources at 31 December 2020

15

0.37

0.25

0.21

0.003

1.86


Total Resources


Mt

CuEq (%)

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

Ag (g/t)

Resources at 31 December 2019

42

0.54

0.39

0.17

0.018

2.10

Additions

244

0.55

0.38

0.20

0.017

1.73

Depletions

1

0.18

0.13

0.07

0.002

1.25

Resources at 31 December 2020

285

0.54

0.38

0.20

0.017

1.79

 

The Mineral Resource additions at the Kennecott Copper operation for 2020 are constrained within OoM open pit expansion phase designs and have been tabulated based on production schedules using optimised varying economic margin cut-off grades which averaged approximately equal to a 0.25 CuEq%.  Depletions are due to 2020 mining of Inferred Resource within the Bingham Canyon Ore Reserve pit. 

Copper equivalent is determined using Rio Tinto forward-looking pricing and metallurgical recovery assumptions which are summarised in the Important notices below.

 

 

 



 

Important notices

 

Iron Ore Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates

The Iron Ore Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates referred to in this release were set out in the release to the ASX dated 17 February 2021 "Changes to Iron Ore Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves" (RTIO release).  The Competent Person responsible for the information in the RTIO release that relates to Mineral Resources is Mr Bruce Sommerville, who is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (FAusIMM). The Competent Person responsible for the information in the RTIO release that relates to Ore Reserves is Mr Rishi Verma who is a Member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (MAusIMM).   

RTA Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates

The Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates for RTA referred to in this release were set out in the release to the ASX dated 17 February 2021 "Changes to Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations Ore Reserve and Mineral Resource Estimates" (RTA release).  The Competent Person responsible for the information in the RTA release that relates to Mineral Resources is Mr Angus C. McIntyre, who is a Member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (MAusIMM).  The Competent Person responsible for the information in the RTA release that relates to Ore Reserves is Mr William Saba who is a Member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (MAusIMM). 

Copper Mineral Resource estimates

The Mineral Resource estimates for Kennecott Copper referred to in this release were set out in the release to the ASX dated 17 February 2021 "Increase in Mineral Resource at Kennecott Copper operation following mine life extension studies" (RTK release).  The Competent Persons responsible for the information in the RTK release that relates to Mineral Resources are Kim Schroeder and Pancho Rodriguez, who are Members of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (MAusIMM).

Copper equivalents referred to in this release have been calculated using the formula CuEq% = Cu% + (((Au g/t * Au price per gram * Au_recovery) + (Mo% * Mo price per tonne * Mo_recovery) + (Ag g/t * Ag price per gram * Ag_recovery)) / (Cu price per tonne * Cu_recovery). Metal prices used are provided by Rio Tinto Economics and are generated based on industry capacity analysis, global commodity consumption and economic growth trends. A single long term price point is used in the definition of ore and waste and in the financial evaluations underpinning the resources statement. The detail of this process and of the price points selected are commercially sensitive and are not disclosed. Operating costs are informed by current operations. Average grades for the individual metals included in the metal equivalent calculation are shown in the Mineral Resource tabulations. Average metallurgical recoveries for the resource additions used to calculate CuEq% are:

%Cu

%Au

%Mo

%Ag

89

70

71

74

It is the company's opinion that all the elements included in the metal equivalent calculation have a reasonable potential to be recovered by Rio Tinto Kennecott's milling, smelting and refining facilities and sold.

No new information

Rio Tinto confirms that it is not aware of any new information or data that materially affects the information included in the RTIO release, the RTK release or the RTA release (together, the ASX releases), that all material assumptions and technical parameters underpinning the estimates in the ASX releases continue to apply and have not materially changed, and that the form and context in which the Competent Persons' findings are presented have not been materially modified.


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Rio Tinto plc

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This announcement is authorised for release to the market by Rio Tinto's Group Company Secretary.

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