UPDATE 1-Fortescue running in black despite iron ore plunge
* Fortescue says knocks iron ore costs down to $39/t
* Shares jump 9 percent
* To hold at least $1.5 billion in cash this quarter (Adds quotes, details,)
By James Regan
SYDNEY, April 16 (Reuters) - Australia's Fortescue Metals Group Ltd signalled it is still operating in the black despite a plunge in iron ore prices after driving down costs, potentially easing pressure on the miner to quickly refinance its debt pile.
The attack on costs, which tooks its break-even cost for mining iron ore to $39 a tonne, sent the miner's stock up as much as 9 percent, although the shares have still halved over the past seven months.
Releasing its third-quarter production report, Fortescue also said the lower operating costs should allow it to keep its cash at or above $1.5 billion this quarter, reassuring investors who had feared the company was burning through its cash at current ore prices.
Iron ore for delivery to China - Fortescue's main market - currently stands at $49.70 a tonne, down about 60 percent from a year ago. .IO62-CNI=SI, sending shivers through a sector were many miners are increasingly operating at a loss.
Fortescue's cost-cutting was better than expected and would likely to force out short-sellers who have been targetting the stock as iron prices have slumped, two fund managers told Reuters. Continuación...