Aussie iron ore giants remain bullish despite price drop – by Kaori Takahashi (May 2, 2017)

Big miners lifting output on optimism about long-term demand from China, India

SYDNEY — Major Australian iron ore miners are gearing up to bolster production despite falling prices, expecting demand from China and India to continue growing.

Rio Tinto’s production report for the January-March quarter shows its output in Australia declined 3% on the year to 77.2 million tons, due to bad weather. Shipments remained mostly unchanged at 76.7 million tons.

The Anglo-Australian miner is slated to begin production at the Silvergrass mine in Western Australia in the second half of the year. The company projects its 2017 iron ore shipments at 330 million tons to 340 million tons, up from 327.6 million tons last year, and is looking to lift annual volume to 360 million tons down the line.

Rio Tinto will make a full-scale effort to maximize the value of its production system, Chief Financial Officer Christopher Lynch said. Rival Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton’s January-March production rose from a year earlier, but by just 1%.

The output volume for the nine months through March came to 199 million tons, a 3% year-on-year increase. Bad weather also affected the company’s production, but it was able to offset the negative impact, thanks to improved productivity via a beefed-up ore-crushing capacity and better freight trains at the Jimblebar mine in Western Australia.

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