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Rio Tinto reports strong demand for iron ore, copper and gold in fourth quarter

Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) said Thursday that demand for iron ore, copper and gold rose strongly in the fourth quarter, but was cautious about the current year as governments wind down economic stimulus programs.

Rio Tinto said global iron ore production was up 49 per cent compared to a year earlier, driven by strong demand from China. It said mined copper production rose 36 per cent, refined copper output was up 15 per cent and mined gold was up 141 per cent at more than 1.1 million ounces.

The trading update did not report earnings or revenues.

"We are seeing recovery across most of our key commodities, although we continue to be cautious on the state of the global economy going into 2010 as stimulus packages start to wind down," Chief Executive Tom Albanese said.

Rio Tinto shares were up 1.8 per cent at 3,600.5 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

"There may not be much upside from here given our outlook for base metal prices," said Charles Kernot, analyst at Evolution Securities in London.

Rio Tinto said it had completed divestments worth $1.85 billion in the fourth quarter, bringing its total to $10.3 billion since it began its divestment program in 2008.


Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company