Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to reveal iron production drops

City A.M. Reporter
MINING giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are this week expected to post a drop in quarterly iron ore output.

BHP Billiton is on Wednesday set to report a rise in quarterly output from its petroleum division after producing more gas in the United States in response to higher prices.

The increase, by as much as four per cent over the previous quarter to about 67m barrels oil equivalent (mmboe), will keep BHP on track to meet its fiscal 2013 production forecast of 240 mmboe.

It will also show the world’s biggest diversified miner by revenue is moving ahead with a strategy of relying more on petroleum to offset weakness in iron ore, its top revenue earner.

Both BHP and Rio Tinto are forecast to report a drop in quarterly iron ore output due to shipping interruptions caused by cyclones in Australia.

Rio Tinto is expected to reveal a seasonally affected slip in iron ore output tomorrow – down by as much as 10 per cent to under 46 million tonnes. Iron ore made up 46 per cent of the Anglo-Australian company’s revenues in the half-year ended December.

Cyclone Rusty, which swept down the Pilbara iron belt coastline in late February, caused temporary closures of the Dampier, Cape Lambert and Port Hedland ports, which BHP and Rio Tinto rely on to export ore.

Despite the storm-related setbacks and dire price predictions, Rio Tinto insists it will meet its target of a 15 per cent rise in output this year to 290m tonnes.