UPDATE 1-BHP Billiton lifts annual iron ore production guidance

martes 15 de abril de 2014 19:59 GYT

* BHP lifts full-year iron ore guidance by 5 million tonnes

* Says cyclonic weather over last quarter had little impact on mines

* March quarter iron ore output up 1 pct vs Dec quarter (Adds detail on iron ore, copper, oil, copper, quote)

By James Regan

SYDNEY, April 16 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton is lifting its iron ore production this year to capture more of the Chinese market for the steelmaking ingredient, amid strong competition from rivals in Australia and Brazil.

The world's biggest mining company on Wednesday lifted full-year iron ore production guidance by 5 million tonnes to 217 million as it pushes ahead with new mine work in Australia.

That's still behind BHP's Australian rival, Rio Tinto , which is close to mining 300 million tonnes a year and Rio de Janeiro-based Vale which is targeting annual output of more than 360 million tonnes.

China imports more than a half-billion tonnes of iron ore annually to supplement domestic production of mostly lower-grade ore. China's crude steel production rate of some 2 million tonne a day makes it by far the biggest consumer of iron ore.

Output from BHP's most profitable division rose 1 pct to 49.6 million tonnes in the three months ended March 31 versus the previous quarter, and rose 23 percent against the year-ago period, BHP said in its latest production report.   Continuación...