Rains cut Rio first-quarter iron ore output 3 percent
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto (RIO.AX: Quote) (RIO.L: Quote) on Thursday said first-quarter iron production from Australia fell 3 percent from the same period a year ago due to wet weather at its mines, but kept its full-year guidance intact despite weakening ore prices.
Pilbara mines output totaled 77.2 million tonnes, the company said.
Full-year shipping guidance was kept at 330 million-340 million tonnes.
Shipments from the Australian mines in the first quarter were flat at 76.7 million tonnes against the year-ago period, but down 13 percent from the previous quarter.
Ship loading was impacted by a cyclone, with parts of its rail line hit by heavy rainfall.
"Despite these disruptions, shipments were in line with the first quarter of 2016 and guidance for 2017 remains at 330 to 340 million tonnes," the company said.
Rio Tinto and rivals Vale (VALE5.SA: Quote), BHP Billiton (BHP.AX: Quote) (BLT.L: Quote) and Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX: Quote) are facing a rapidly declining iron ore price amid waning demand from China, the biggest market for ore.
The worldwide iron ore surplus reached 70 million tonnes last year - more than total U.S. consumption last year - and could balloon to 90 million tonnes in 2017, according to Citigroup.
Iron ore prices are down more than 33 percent since a mid-February peak of $94.86 a tonne and forecasters are warning of a further pullback. Continued...