(Adds details on production and sales, market, analyst reaction)
By Gabriela Mello
SAO PAULO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Vale SA said on Monday its third-quarter iron ore production was up from the previous quarter but still down 17.4% from a year ago, as the miner slowly began to resume production at mines that were shut down following a deadly dam burst in January.
The company produced 86.704 million tonnes in the July-September period, up more-than two-thirds from the second quarter as operations resumed at Brucutu, its largest mine in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, and at part of its Vargem Grande complex.
In a securities filing, the world’s top iron ore exporter added it expects to lift production capacity to around 50 million tonnes at its Vargem Grande complex by the end of 2021.
Vale shares were down 1.6% in morning trading in Sao Paulo.
The production figures were “largely in line with our expectations,” said BTG Pactual analyst Leonardo Correa.
“Thus, Vale’s path of recovery in iron ore volumes is progressing smoothly, and we expect these trends to continue into 2020-21,” he said in a research note.
Vale’s iron ore pellet production hit 11.133 million tonnes in the third-quarter, down 19.8% from a year ago, the mining company said.
Vale’s quarterly sales of the key raw material fell 11.8% from a year ago to 74.039 million tonnes.
The miner once again reaffirmed its previous full-year iron ore and pellets sales outlook forecast at between 307 million to 332 million tonnes.
The output and sales figures come a little over a week before Vale’s quarterly results. (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; editing by David Evans and David Gregorio)