Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto denied on Wednesday a charge by China’s steel industry association that iron ore producers are cutting back production to boost prices.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of iron ore and faces new price negotiations next year with the “big three” producers — Rio Tinto, Brazil’s Companhia Vale do Rio Doce and Australia’s BHP Billiton.
“My initial reaction is that we are producing iron ore flat out, and at record levels,” Rio Tinto spokesman Nick Cobban told AFP.
“Our second quarter production figures show that we’ve increased production 11 percent year-on-year and 15 percent compared to the first quarter.
“We are producing record amounts and have announced a big increase in our planned capacity.
“The figures speak for themselves.”
A statement on the website of the China Iron and Steel Association on Wednesday said that the big ore producers were “working together to reduce supplies to China in the third quarter by at least five million tons.”
This was an attempt to “strengthen their position prior to the 2008 talks. It will alter the natural supply and demand,” the statement added.
The three mining companies produce about 75 percent of the globe’s iron ore, a key ingredient used to make steel.