SYDNEY, Jan 15: Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto on Tuesday lifted the planned capacity for its iron ore operations in a remote region of Australia, as it announced record production in 2012.

As commodity prices have rebounded from steep falls in 2012, driven by renewed Chinese demand, Rio said it aimed to expand output in the resource-rich Pilbara region to 360 million tons per year by mid-2015. Previous projections had been for 353m tons within this timeframe.

In its fourth quarter operations review, the miner said iron ore production for the full year was a record 253m tons, four per cent higher than 2011.

The Pilbara operations in northern Western Australia State achieved record annual production of 239m tons in 2012, also four per cent higher than the previous year, it said.

Record global iron ore shipments of 247m tons were also achieved in 2012 despite severe weather disruptions and a significant maintenance shut-down during the year, it added.—AFP

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