Brazil’s Vale slashes iron ore sales estimate after dam burst – by Marta Nogueira and Roberto Samora (Reuters U.S. – March 28, 2019)

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale SA on Thursday estimated selling up to 75 million tonnes less iron ore this year, after several mines were halted following its second deadly dam burst in less than four years.

The estimate, which is 20 percent below its prior forecast, is the latest blow to Vale from the collapse at Brumadinho, which killed some 300 people and forced the world’s largest iron ore exporter to fire its chief executive officer earlier this month.

Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said in a call with analysts that under the most optimistic scenario, 2019 sales would decline about 50 million tonnes.

“Resuming production isn’t the company’s priority – the priority is the safety of its operations, of people and of communities, but I have the duty of sharing some estimates with you,” he said during a conference call the day after Vale disclosed quarterly earnings.

The worst-case sales outlook under a 75 million tonne reduction would still leave 2019 sales at 307 million tonnes. That would represent a substantial decrease from the company’s 382 million tonne sales forecast for this year, also disclosed on Thursday.

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