Weak iron ore prices cause Vale $1.44 billion loss in Q3

Weak iron ore prices cause Vale $1.44 billion loss in Q3

Vale's Carajás, the largest iron ore mine in the world.

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world's largest iron ore producer, was the second miner to surprise investors on Thursday by logging a net loss of $1.44bn in the third quarter due a sharp depreciation in the local currency and the lowest iron ore prices since 2010.

The Rio de Janeiro-based company said net sales fell 27% to $9.1bn in the quarter, far worse than what analysts expected. The firm also reported $2.7bn in foreign exchange and monetary losses on debt and derivatives, following the real's 9.5% depreciation against the U.S. dollar during the quarter.

While Vale produced a record amount of iron ore in the period, the turmoil in currency and commodity markets overshadowed any production gains.

“Because the functional currency of Vale is the Brazilian real, every time our total debt when expressed in the functional currency increases in value, we record a loss,” Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said in a video posted on the company’s website. “We acknowledge the challenging times.”

The company may soon lose its chief executive officer Murilo Ferreira, as market rumours indicate that newly re-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will appoint him as her new finance minister.

Cutting expenditures

The mining giant added it is reducing its capital expenditures and it is likely to invest $1 billion to $2 billion less than its initial forecast for this year of $14.8 billion.

The loss of $1.44bn followed a net profit of $3.5bn in the same period last year, drop that can be explained by significantly lower iron-ore prices and shipments and rising costs.

The price of the steel-making raw material has fallen by more than half since a 2011 peak as the “big three” —Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton— continue to boost supply.