Brazilian mining firm Vale said it expects to achieve iron ore production capacity of 350mn t/yr this year, up by 8.7pc from a year earlier.
It produced 300.4mn t in 2020, down by 0.5pc from the previous year with the return of halted operations at Vargem Grande, Timbopeba and Alegria and the S11D ramp-up offset by constraints in tailings disposal at its Itabira and Brucutu operations.
Iron ore sales were 254.8mn t in 2020, down by 5.4pc. Vale's production and sales were up by 7.9pc and 6.3pc respectively in last year's final quarter. Sales to China hit a record 64mn t during October-December, up by 10.3pc. Brazil's iron ore shipments fell to a seven-year low last year, although exports to China rose by 14pc to a record 247mn t.
Vale expects to bring back 17mn t of capacity at its Brucutu operations in this year's fourth quarter, which will account for nearly 35pc of its total capacity resumption.
The company in last year's final quarter recorded a 24.4pc drop from a year earlier in its pellet production to 7.1mn t. Vale restarted 7mn t of pellet operations last month but said that lower pellet feed availability from its operations remains a bottleneck in output.
Seaborne iron ore prices hit a record high in December 2020, rising further last month because of tighter supplies. Prices have corrected this week, partly on increasing shipments from Brazil, although the first quarter is seasonally a weaker period for shipments from the country because of its rainy season.
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