Vale smashes iron ore production record

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world’s largest producer of iron ore, continued to flood the market with product in 2014 despite sharply lower prices.

In the fourth quarter, the mining giant increased its output of the steelmaking ingredient to 82.97 million metric tons, 2.1 percent more than Q4 of 2013, bringing its total output in 2014 to a record 319.22 million tons. That is up 6.5 percent from 2013 and 7.2 million tons above Vale’s guidance.

The numbers come from Vale’s Q4 and 2014 production report, released on Thursday.

Steady production from the world’s major iron ore-producing regions like Australia and Brazil, along with slumping demand for steel in China, have been blamed for depressing the iron ore price, which is hovering near six-year lows.

Looking at Vale’s full portfolio of metals, the company said its nickel output also rose 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter due to higher production from new mines in New Caledonia and Brazil. Full-year nickel output was up 5.7 percent to 275,000 tons, the highest since 2008. Copper output was up 13 percent for the full year and 11 percent for Q4. Coal was up 2.3 percent for the quarter but down 1.4 for the year.

Vale is also showing no signs of slowing its output, given the announcement last summer that it has secured a key environmental licence for a 90 million tonnes a year expansion of its flagship iron ore mine in the Carajás complex, in the northern state of Para.

The nearly $20 billion plan is expected to start production in 2016 and reach full capacity of 90-million tonnes a year of iron-ore in 2018, or nearly a third of Vale’s existing annual output.


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