Australia’s leading iron ore miner Rio Tinto while announcing operational performance for 2022 expects a volatile start to 2023 as the end of China’s zero-COVID policy raises the risk of new waves of infections pummeling demand across its biggest customer base. Rio Tinto said “Market conditions improved towards the end of 2022, sending iron ore prices 22% higher. China’s steel sector benefited as Beijing unleashed three stimulus packages to aid the country’s property sector, before the further easing of pandemic-related public health controls in December and gradual reopening of the economy. However, the coming months will likely bring high volatility, as China faces a growing wave of coronavirus cases. New outbreaks were expected to intensify short-term risks of supply chain disruptions and labor shortages across the country. Steel demand recovery hinges on the country’s ability to control the COVID outbreak.”Rio Tinto’s iron ore production from its Pilbara operations in Western Australia increased by 6% YoY & QoQ in October-December 2022 quarter to 89.5 tonnes, while iron ore shipments from its Pilbara operations amounted to 87.3 million tonnes, up by 4% YoY & 5% QoQIn 2022, Rio Tinto’s iron ore production from its Pilbara operations rose by one year on year to 324.1 million tonnes, while its iron ore shipments in the same period totaled 321.6 million tonnes, remaining stable compared to the previous year.Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore shipment guidance for 2023 is at 320-335 million tonnes subject to weather and market conditions.