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RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA said on Thursday it produced 319.2 million tonnes of iron ore in 2014, beating its forecast for the year, as it begins to boost production after years of stagnation.
Vale, the world's largest producer of iron ore, produced 83 million tonnes of the steelmaking ingredient in the fourth quarter, an increase of 2 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Full-year iron ore production rose 6.5 percent compared with the previous year, breaking through the 300 million-tonne-a-year mark, where it has been practically frozen since 2007. Vale had forecast output of 312 million tonnes for the year.
The growth in production will be more than offset by falling iron ore prices, which fell by half last year as a massive increase in Australian capacity coincided with a slowdown in China, the main market for iron ore.
Vale took the crown for the world's biggest producer of nickel from Russia's Norilsk Nickel, reaching 275,000 tonnes of the ingredient used to make stainless steel in 2014. That was its best performance since 2008, despite falling short of guidance.
In the fourth quarter, the company also produced 73,600 tonnes of nickel and 2.3 million tonnes of coal. (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jeffrey Benkoe)