Rio, BHP mine more iron ore, bet on China steel

Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:06am EST
 
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By James Regan

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are set to report solid iron ore output growth in the December quarter as they continue to expand mining in Australia, betting any loss in China's appetite for the steelmaking material is only temporary.

Both companies maintain that sales orders to China, the world's top buyer, are showing no signs of weakening despite a slowdown in Chinese steel production.

"Production and earnings are expected to highlight what remains a robust sector, even though economic uncertainties continue to drive near-term sentiment," brokerage Nomura said in a note.

Analysts expect Rio to show a rise of more than 25 percent in iron ore output over the previous quarter when it reports December-quarter production data on Tuesday.

And BHP's December-quarter iron ore yield could be up as much as 23 percent when it reports on Wednesday, they said.

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China iron ore trade link.reuters.com/zuw44s

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