* Nickel, coal production rise from year ago
* Copper, cobalt production reaches record levels
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 17 (Reuters) - Iron-ore output at Brazilian global miner Vale SA fell 3.5 percent in the first quarter on declining ore quality and license delays at old mines, the company said on Wednesday.
The impact of falling iron ore output was eased by rising production at new and much-delayed projects in Brazil, Canada, New Caledonia and Mozambique, Vale said in a securities filing.
Nickel and coal output rose and Vale recorded record levels of copper and cobalt production, Vale said.
Output of iron ore, the main ingredient of steel, rose 3.5 percent to 67.5 million tonnes in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, and was 21 percent below fourth quarter levels.
Iron ore pellet production fell to 11.7 million tonnes, an 11.7 percent drop from a year earlier and 3.5 percent below fourth-quarter levels. Pellets are a regular, concentrated form of iron ore.
Vale is the world’s largest iron ore producer, No. 2 nickel producer and a growing miner of copper.
First-quarter nickel output rose 3 percent from a year earlier to 65,000 tonnes and rose 1.7 percent from the previous quarter. Nickel is used to make steel rust resistant.
Copper output rose 22 percent from a year ago to 90,000 tonnes and was 10.5 percent higher than in the third quarter. Copper, a reddish metal, is a key component in electrical and electronic equipment.
Output was aided by the ramp-up of production at the Salobo I copper-gold project in Brazil’s Amazon. Salobo, which has suffered delays and technical problems, functioned at 65 percent of capacity in the quarter, Vale said.