* Rio Tinto Q3 iron ore shipments up 17 percent
* Holds full-year guidance for 340 mln/tonnes
* Copper slips over Kennecott Utah repairs (Adds analyst quote, iron ore, copper details)
SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto on Friday posted a 17 percent rise in third-quarter iron ore shipments to 91.3 million tonnes and said it remained on track to meet full-year guidance of 340 million tonnes.
At that level, the Anglo-Australian miner would maintain a steady ranking with Vale of Brazil, while ahead of BHP Billiton .
“Companies such as Rio Tinto are making a lot of money out of iron ore because they can produce so much, so you would expect production to keep going up,” MineLife analyst Gavin Wendt said.
Iron ore prices .IO62-CNI=SI plunged some 75 percent in the last four years as growth in China’s steel industry slowed, forcing miners to slash costs.
Iron ore miners have been on a drive to lower their iron ore production costs to close to $10-$15 a tonne to keep ahead of the deterioration in pricing.
Iron ore stood at $53.20 per tonne on Friday, just above the $50 average over 2016 and 2017, according to a median forecast of 17 analysts polled by Reuters late last month.
In its copper division, Rio Tinto said it expects its share of mined production in 2015 to reach only about 510,000 tonnes, down from earlier guidance of up to 535,000 tonnes and refined copper production to be around 215,000 tonnes down from earlier guidance of up to 220,000 tonnes.
The downward revisions are largely the result of repair work under way at the company’s Kennecott Utah copper division, according to the company. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)