Vale reports record output in Q1 as iron-ore price rallies

21st April 2016 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Brazilian diversified miner Vale has reported record iron-ore production at 77.5-million tonnes in the first quarter of 2016, marking the highest first-quarter production rate ever, despite output lowering 12% from the December quarter.

Carajás, the world’s largest iron-ore mine, located in Brazil, achieved a production record for the period ended March 31, of 32.4-million tonnes, an increase of 17.7% over the past 12 months, mainly owing to the excellent performance of the N4WS and N5S mines.

Iron-ore prices had surged 44% since the year started, as Chinese mills ramped up output to take advantage of a rebound in steel prices.

Vale stated that iron-ore production in the first quarter and its profile for the remainder of 2016 indicated a yearly output at the lower limit of the original guidance range of 340-million tonnes to 350-million tonnes for 2016. Further, BHP Billiton on Wednesday lowered its iron-ore production expectations for 2016 by ten-million tonnes.

The mining company reported that it would produce 260-million tonnes of iron-ore in the financial year to the end of June 2016. The group aimed to boost capacity to 290-million tonnes “over time”.

The Tubarão pellet plants, which produced preferred input for blast furnaces, achieved a production record for a first quarter of 7.2-million, representing an increase of 100 000 t when compared with the same period last year, mainly attributable to an overall higher performance in the plants, the company advised.

Nickel output also hit a record high at 73 500 t, an increase of 4 300 t year-on-year, mainly owing to the operational performance of Sudbury and the record output in Vale New Caledonia (VNC).

Copper output totalled 109 900 t in the quarter, up 5 300 t, which was another production record for the period, as Salobo ramped up.

Gold production reached a record 118 100 oz, mainly owing to the operational performance of Sudbury and the successful ramp-up of Salobo.

Coal output reached 1.7-million tonnes, a 4.9% improvement quarter-on-quarter, boosted by higher metallurgical coal output in Australia. It was, however 1.9% lower than a year earlier, owing to lower production in Moatize, Mozambique.