BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto report rising output

RIO TINTO and BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miners, have posted iron ore production growth in spite of lingering concerns about long-term Chinese demand.

Rio produced 52.6m tonnes over the third quarter, up five per cent compared to the same period last year.

The Australia and Canada-focused miner said year to date global iron ore production touched 147m tonnes, up four per cent year on year.

The FTSE 100-listed firm reported record quarterly output at its Pilbara mine in Western Australia, producing 50.3m tonnes over the three months to the end of September, up five per cent from the same period last year.

Rio, which said yesterday that production continued to exceed sales at Pilbara, is ramping up output at its flagship mine to target 353m tonnes of iron ore a year by the first half of 2015.

Rio, which derives around 80 per cent of its earnings from iron ore, maintained its 2012 production target of 250m tonnes, adding that its business has not overly suffered from the fall in demand from Chinese industry, in part due to strengthening prices.

BHP Billiton reported steady September quarter iron ore production and maintained its guidance for a five per cent increase in output of the steel-making ingredient this year.

Output was 39.8m tonnes against 39.6m in the corresponding period a year ago, it said in its quarterly activities report this morning.