Heat of mining boom over but Rio Tinto still moving tonnes

THE heat of the boom may have cooled for coal miners, but that is not stopping Rio Tinto from moving as many tonnes as it can.

In its latest quarterly report the British-Australian firm's chief executive Sam Walsh has told investors the amount of coal pulled from its Kestrel mine in Central Queensland is finally creeping up after limping through an upgrade.

Compared to the first three months of 2013, Kestrel has this year almost doubled coking coal production, lifting it from 321,000 tonnes to 625,000.

Production at its Hail Creek mine south of Mackay fell slightly from 1.2 million tonnes in early 2013 to 1.19 million tonnes of coking coal this year.

Hail Creek also produced 320,000 tonnes of energy coal in the first quarter, which it only began towards the end of 2013.

Its 50.1% stake in the Clermont mine will fall into the hands of Swiss giant Glencore-Xstrata and Japanese powerhouse Sumitomo before June 30, earning Rio roughly $1.1 billion.