SYDNEY— Rio Tinto PLC said pandemic-related restrictions are affecting its mining operations from Australia to Mongolia, slowing iron-ore shipments, raising production costs and delaying projects.
The disruptions come as governments around the world grapple with the impact of higher commodity prices as the global economy bounces back from Covid-19 and spending on infrastructure rises. Several countries in South America and Europe have recently raised interest rates to counter inflation concerns.
Rio Tinto is the world’s second-largest mining company by market value, behind BHP Group Ltd. , and is a major supplier of commodities to countries including China and the U.S. Tighter supply risks supporting prices as trillions of dollars of stimulus deployed world-wide bolsters demand for metals. Some mined commodities including iron ore and copper have hit record prices this year.
“Heightened Covid-19 constraints, which resulted in numerous travel restrictions, added further pressure on the business,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said when detailing Rio Tinto’s operational performance in the three months through June.
Infections have been rising in many parts of the world because of highly transmissible mutations of the coronavirus, particularly the Delta variant, prompting some countries to tighten public-health rules in a bid to get case numbers under control.