"This was another year of strong operational performance across the group," Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese said in the company's fourth-quarter production report."Markets remain volatile, but our business continues to perform well," Albanese said.
Rio Tinto, the second-biggest producer behind Brazil's Vale, had set a target of 250 million tons in 2012, up from 244.6 million in 2011.
Iron ore prices have soared more than 80 percent since September as Chinese steel mills - the single biggest buyers of seaborne-traded ore - returned to the market on signs of a recovery in the Chinese economy.
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Benchmark prices hit a 15-month high of $158.50 a ton last week, as China's iron ore imports topped 70 million tons for the first time in December helped by a resurgent economy and a cold snap that cut local production.
Rio Tinto also said its aluminium division produced 10 percent less primary metal in 2012 versus 2011 due to a labour dispute.
The company said it would also make a decision later this month on whether to mothball the Gove alumina refinery in Australia.