Energy & Minerals

Energy & Minerals

Energy

Coal

Coal is roughly divided into two types, thermal coal and coking coal. Thermal coal is mainly used as a fuel for boilers at power stations and in-house power generation facilities. Coking coal, meanwhile, is mainly used to produce coke for steel manufacturing.

We produce coking coal (hard coking coal) from two sites in Queensland, Australia: Hail Creek and Kestrel. The total volume of coal imported to Japan in 2016 was about 184 million tonnes of which approximately two thirds is imported from Australia. Rio Tinto exports high quality thermal and coking coal to various countries, including Japan. Rio Tinto jointly operates both of its two coal production bases with Japanese business partners.

Find out more about Rio Tinto Coal Australia

Uranium

Uranium concentrate is used as fuel to operate nuclear power plants worldwide, after going through various processes (conversion, concentration, moulding and processing).

Rio Tinto operates two uranium mines: the Rössing mine in Namibia and Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger mine. These are the world's largest and oldest open pit uranium mines, and began operations in 1976 and 1981 respectively. Several Japanese electric power companies participated at the time of the establishment as joint venture partners of the Ranger mine with the aim to secure a stable supply of uranium, so the connection with Japan has a deep history.

Rio Tinto’s uranium concentrate is supplied to electric power companies worldwide. Since the beginning of our mining operations, our customers have included Japan.

Find out more about Rössing and Energy Resources of Australia 

Minerals

Salt

Approximately 80 per cent of raw salt imported to Japan for industrial applications is used as raw material for the soda industry. This includes caustic soda, used in a wide range of fields such as for aluminium and chemical fibre production; a raw material for soap and detergent; drinking water, sewage systems, and wastewater treatment; and reducing agents.

Dampier Salt has three salt fields located at Dampier, Port Hedland and Lake MacLeod in Western Australia and exports approximately eight to nine million tonnes of solar salt a year to the global market. Seawater and underground brine are used for the production of solar salt. Dampier Salt harvests and ships crystallised raw salt that is grown by using the power of the sun and the wind to evaporate and concentrate salt water.

Dampier Salt was established in 1967 as a joint venture company between Rio Tinto and Japanese trading houses. As Japan depends on imports for most of the industrial salt it uses, Dampier Salt supports the lives of people through the manufacturing of chemical products.

Find out more about Dampier Salt 

Borates

Borates – compounds containing the element boron – are used in a wide range of applications. The most common use is as a raw material for glass products such as fibreglass, heat-resistant glass, and liquid crystal glass substrate used in consumer electronics like smartphones. Borates are also used in many other fields such as fertilisers, detergents, ceramics, wood preservatives, glazes, and nuclear power generation.

Rio Tinto is one of the world's largest suppliers of borates. We operate the Boron mine in California, US, which has been in operation for more than a century; refine and ship boron compounds; and manage inventory and sales operations in major markets around the world. The annual production volume is about 1 million tonnes, nearly 40 per cent of the world's supply

We have been supplying borates to Japan through designated trading companies for many years, contributing to the development of Japanese industry and the improvement of living standards.

Find out more about our Borates business and the 20 Mule Team Borax brand

Titanium, zircon and iron

Rio Tinto produces titanium slag, a raw material for titanium dioxide and titanium sponge, from the mineral ilmenite, and supplies it to customers in Japan. Titanium dioxide is widely used for paint and cosmetic raw materials while titanium sponge is used in parts for aircraft, space rockets, cars and bicycles. We also produce rutile sand, used for welding, and zircon sand, a raw material for ceramics.

As by-products of titanium production, we produce high-purity pig iron and metal powder for powder metallurgy used in automobile parts. We also manufacture iron billets used for speciality applications.

Rio Tinto produces these products at three companies: Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in Canada, Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa, and QIT Madagascar Minerals in Madagascar

Find out more about our products below:

Group company Product name Interest (%) 
Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane
(Eastern Canada)
ATOMET™ (metal powder for powder metallurgy)
RTCS™ (titanium slag for chlorine method)
Sorelflux® (ilmenite ore for blast furnaces)
Sorelmetal® (high purity pig iron)
SORELSLAG® (titanium slag for the sulphuric acid process)
SORELSTEEL® (iron billet)
UGS™ (high grade titanium slag)
100%
Richard Bay Minerals
(South Africa)
Natural Rutile (natural rutile)
RB Chloride Slag (titanium slag for the chlorine process)
RB Sulphate Slag (titanium slag for the sulphuric process)
Sorelmetal R. (high purity pig iron)
Zircon Sand & Flour
74%
QIT Madagascar Minerals
(Madagascar)
Zirsill (mixture of zircon and sillimanite) 80%