(Reuters) - Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG.AX) on Thursday hiked its annual iron ore shipments forecast after it reported a 10% rise in third-quarter shipments and said it had managed to keep a lid on costs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, one of the big four global iron ore miners, has so far shrugged off any impact from the virus outbreak, saying iron ore shipments and customer payments remain unaffected, even as it conserves cash to guard against a prolonged downturn.
It said in March that shipments from Port Hedland, the world’s biggest iron ore export hub, were continuing on schedule despite curbs on movement and activity in the country, though exploration activities have been suspended.
Fortescue now expects to ship 175-177 million tonnes (Mt) of the steelmaking commodity in 2020, compared with its earlier forecast of the top-end of the 170-175 Mt range.
The company shipped 42.3 Mt of iron ore in the three months ended March 31, just beating a UBS estimate of 42.1 Mt and up from 38.3 Mt in a cyclone-hit period last year. Operating costs fell 2% to $13.27 per wet metric tonne.
Fortescue added that it expects a steady recovery in economic activity in China and that it sees strong ongoing demand for its products from the world’s top metals consumer.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Lincoln Feast.