Rio May Usurp Vale in Tussle to Be Biggest Iron Ore Miner: Chart

  • London-based Rio forecasts 2016 output of 350 million tons
  • Vale cut production guidance after November dam disaster

Rio Tinto Group is poised to draw level -- or may even topple -- Vale SA as the world’s largest producer of iron ore this year as the London-based miner expands supply while its rival grapples with the impact of November’s deadly dam rupture at its Samarco joint venture in Brazil.

The top producers are still raising output even as prices collapse, seeking to expand market share and trim costs by fully utilizing their networks of mines, railroads and ports. Rio forecasts that production from its mines, including tons allocated to partners, will gain about 7 percent this year to 350 million metric tons, while Vale last month cut its estimate for 2016 to 340 million to 350 million tons from guidance of 376 million tons given a year earlier.

“It will only be a temporary change before Vale’s S11D comes online, which is a massive project,” CRU Group’s Sydney-based senior consultant Adrian Doyle said by phone. Rio de Janeiro-based Vale forecasts output will expand to between 420 million and 450 million tons in 2019 as it adds supply, including from the 90 million ton a year S11D asset in Brazil’s north that’s slated to start in the second half of this year.

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