UPDATE 1.05pm: Rio Tinto's Pilbara expansion has lifted its share of Pilbara exports by 1.55 million tonnes of iron ore as its Hope Downs 4 expansion came on line in the quarter.
As the company pushes ahead with its plans to hit a 290mt run rate in the first half of next year, the total production from Rio-run Pilbara mines lifted 3.5 per cent, or 2.2 million tonnes of iron ore, compared to the three months to the end of June, to 64.3mt.
Compared to the September quarter of 2012, total production from Rio's mines rose 1.3mt, or 2.1 per cent,.
The biggest contributor to the lift came from its Hope Downs joint venture with Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, which produced just over 9 million tonnes of iron ore for the quarter as the Hope Downs 4 mine came on line, compared to 7.9mt the previous quarter.
After commissioning its underground expansion earlier in the year, Rio's Argyle Diamond mine increased production by 26 per cent to 3.8 million carats for the quarter.
In a statement Rio chief executive Sam Walsh said the company was making "good progress" on its plans to drive down costs and make productivity improvements, saying the record results were also partly attributable to the early opening of its Pilbara port and rail infrastructure expansion.
Chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio had achieved strong production results in the quarter.
"In iron ore, we achieved record production and shipments in WA following the official opening of our Pilbara 290 port and rail expansion, four months ahead of its original schedule and $400 million under budget,” he said.
“We are also making further important gains in productivity across our operations and continue to drive costs out of the business."Rio shares were up $1.60, or 2.6 per cent, to $63.12 shortly before the close of trade.