World No. 2 iron ore supplier Vale SA delivered a bigger-than-expected increase in production last quarter in a result that may undermine prices of the key steelmaking ingredient.
The Brazilian mining giant is accelerating production, posting its best December in five years, after investing in its prized Amazonian operations and improving performance at its oldest mines in the country’s southeast. Production was up from both a year ago and the previous three months, with full-year output ahead of guidance.
The bumper haul may generate some headwinds for the iron ore market, which has been fairly resilient to a slowdown in China, the biggest buyer. Prices have rallied by more than a third since mid-August, leading some analysts to forecast a decline in 2024. Still, top producer Rio Tinto Group sees increased stimulus fueling a gradual recovery in China.
Vale produced 89.4 million metric tons last quarter, easily beating the 83 million-ton average estimate among analysts tracked by Bloomberg. In a statement Monday, the Rio de Janeiro-based firm reiterated its 2024 guidance.
While production was strong, shipments came in slightly below estimates and premiums for high-grade products shrank. Vale shares fell as much as 2.6% in New York Tuesday as renewed concerns over the real estate crisis in China pushed down iron ore prices.