(Bloomberg) — Brazilian mining giant Vale SA produced less iron ore than expected last quarter in a fresh blow to an already tight global market for the steelmaking ingredient.
The world’s second-largest iron producer churned out 75.7 million metric tons in the second quarter compared with the 78 million-ton average analyst estimate. The result was still up from both the previous three months and the Covid-impacted year-ago period.
The Rio de Janeiro-based producer’s ongoing recovery from an early-2019 dam disaster makes it a major swing factor in a market in which demand remains strong despite China’s efforts to curb emissions and contain commodity inflation. Vale’s ability and willingness to expand and take back the No. 1 producer title it lost to Rio Tinto Group will help determine whether the market moves back into surplus. Rio Tinto has said suppliers are struggling to meet demand.
Vale’s ramp-up took a hit in early June when it was ordered to restrict operations at its Timbopeba complex amid concerns surrounding the stability of another dam. In the first quarter, the partial resumption of Timbopeba had helped push up Vale’s output.
Vale is scheduled to release earnings on July 28.
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