(VALE) Vale’s First Quarter Iron Ore Volume Drops

Vale S.A. (VALE), a metals and mining company, recently announced a mixed production report for the first quarter 2013, including a year-over-year decline in the iron ore performance.

Vale saw a year-over-year increase in production across some of its products including manganese ore, coal, nickel, copper, potash and phosphates in the first quarter 2013. However, production of other items like pellets and iron ore experienced a year-over-year decline during the period.

After experiencing a record fourth quarter iron ore production, Vale’s iron ore production for the current quarter declined by 3.5% to 67.5 million metric tons. Impediments pertaining to license delays and other operational issues brought about the decline. Unlike last quarter, the N5 South mine in Carajás did not perform in the reported quarter due to operational hazards.

However, Vale’s diminished iron-ore production could not stand in the way of its holding a record production in other segments. The reported quarter witnessed a record production of coal, increasing 16.6% year-over-year. Also, metallurgical coal reached a peak, increasing 21.9%, along with thermal coal reaching the highest level since the first quarter of 2009, with an increase of 1.0%. This high rate of yield was a result of improved performance in the mines of Australia, especially in its Carborough Downs mine.

Two more mining companies, Rio Tinto Plc. (RIO) and BHP Billiton Plc. (BHP), also declared their production reports this week. However, the iron ore production for both increased in the reported quarter ending Mar 31, 2013.

Vale is scheduled to release its first quarter 2013 earnings results on Apr 24. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has a Zacks Consensus Estimate of 43 cents for the quarter. Another stock worth a look in the mining industry is Cameco Corporation (CCJ), carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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