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Mining giant, Rio Tinto plc (RIO - Analyst Report) announced operational results for its second quarter. The company reported increased year-over-year production for most of its commodities.

While the production of diamonds, silver, copper, coal, iron ore increased, production of some commodities like gold, molybdenum and salt plunged during the quarter.

During the quarter, Rio decided against selling its diamond business since the production of diamonds in the Argyle mine soared 87% year over year to over 3 million carats, although the Diavik mine witnessed a decline of 13% year over year to 936,000 carats.

At the half year production levels, the company achieved a record iron ore production with the production increasing 6% and shipments rising 4% against the year-ago comparable period. Rio’s Pilbara capacity expansion plans are on track, and are expected to reach a capacity of 290 million tonnes annually by third quarter 2013.

With a reduction in exploration and evaluation spending in the first half of 2013, to the tune of $483 million, Rio Tinto is on the right path to reach its $750 million targeted reduction.

Subsequent to the quarter, Rio Tinto’s subsidiaries made considerable progress. The company’s Oyu Tolgoi mine had its first shipment of copper concentrate to China in July this year. Moreover, Rio Tinto’s Kestrel Mine Extension started production around the same time.

Rio Tinto operates in a highly competitive industry. Rio Tinto currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Other stocks to watch out for in the industry are Stillwater Mining Co. (SWC - Snapshot Report), Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (AVL) and North American Palladium Ltd. (PAL - Snapshot Report). Stillwater holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while, Avalon and North American Palladium, both carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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