Rio Tinto subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has reported total uranium production of 3,710t from its Ranger mine in North Australia for the year 2012.

In the fourth quarter of the year, ended in December, the company posted a 1% lower production rate than Q3 totaling 1,227t of uranium.

Production for the fourth quarter, however, was 19% higher when compared to the corresponding quarter in 2011.

Increase in uranium oxide production was attributed to the access of higher grade ore at the bottom of the pit.

Mining at Pit 3 was completed ahead of schedule in November 2012, as dewatering of the pit was completed earlier than expected.

The company began backfilling of Pit 3 in December with its existing mining fleet and termed it a significant step towards rehabilitation.

According to the company, exploration expenditure for the complete year totaled $45m and included $34m for the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration and $11m for surface exploration.