UPDATE 3-Rio Tinto lifts iron ore output as Chinese mines struggle
* Rio Tinto boosts Q2 iron ore output, shipments
* Sees total 2014 iron ore shipments around 300 mln/t
* Global miners count on Chinese mines closing to boost demand
By James Regan
SYDNEY, July 16 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto reported on Wednesday a sharp rise in iron ore output in Australia, as the global miner agressively expanded shipments to China, banking on its low costs to displace local Chinese producers.
Mega miners such as Rio, Brazil's Vale and BHP Billiton have been ramping up output, reducing their costs even further despite concerns of an oversupply as China's steel output growth moderates.
China's domestic industry is fragmented, with miners in coastal areas suffering under some of the highest production costs in the country - well above the price of imported ore from Australia and Brazil.
Ore from China's estimated 6,000 mines on average contains less than 30 percent iron, compared with Australian and Brazilian ores that typically have close to double that amount.
Rio Tinto, which competes with Vale, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group in the seaborne iron ore market, said it was on track to produce 295 million tonnes of the steel-making material in 2014, up from 266 million last year. Continuación...