UPDATE 2-Rio Tinto lifts iron ore shipments despite China risks, draws on inventory
* Rio Tinto Q3 iron ore shipments up 17 percent
* Uses 5 million tonnes of inventory
* Holds full-year production guidance at 340 mln/tonnes (Adds details of inventory drawdown, analyst quote, market comment)
By James Regan
SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto on Friday posted a 17 percent rise in third-quarter iron ore shipments and said it was on track to meet a full-year target of 340 million tonnes, shrugging off risks from slower economic growth and peaking steel output in China.
In a sign market conditions may be improving, the miner dipped into its inventories - 4 million tonnes from its Australian operations and 1 million from the Canadian business - after production fell short of shipments.
Rio Tinto shipped 91.3 million tonnes over the quarter, outstripping production of 86.1 million tonnes, data from the company's quarterly production report showed.
"Clearly, the iron ore market is reasonably tight," said Shaw Stockbroking mining analyst Peter O'Connor in a note to clients.
At Rio Tinto's forecast shipping rate, the Anglo-Australian miner would maintain a steady ranking with Vale of Brazil, while ahead of BHP Billiton . Continuación...