Rio Tinto to take iron ore crown as Vale struggles – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – July 23, 2019)

Rio Tinto is on track to become the world’s biggest iron ore exporter in 2019 after trouble-prone Brazilian miner Vale revealed weaker-than-expected exports over the past three months.

The surprisingly weak performance from Vale came as African iron ore miner Kumba joined the industry trend for reduced export targets, and as Vale reiterated that it could be three years before it resumed shipping at full speed.

Vale was always expected to ship less iron ore this year after the catastrophic dam failures in January that killed hundreds of people and forced the company to halt about 90 million tonnes of annual production capacity.

But even allowing for the dam disruptions, Vale’s iron ore production in the three months ended June 30 was about 14 per cent below analysts’ expectations. The fall to producing just 64.05 million tonnes over the past three months was blamed on rain, and Vale shipped 61.9 million tonnes in the quarter.

Vale exported 138.5 million tonnes in the first half of 2019, 18 per cent less than in the same period of last year. The company expects exports to rise over the next six months with the help of the recent restart of the Brucutu mine, and the company forecast exports in 2019 would fall around the midpoint of its 307 million to 332 million tonne guidance range.

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