(Adds market context, production numbers)
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 22 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA said on Wednesday it produced 74.5 million tonnes of iron ore in the first quarter, a company record for the period, as it increased output despite weak prices.
The 4.9 percent year-on-year production increase by the world’s largest iron ore miner adds to a global glut that has pushed the spot price .IO62-CNI=SI down 60 percent in the past year.
In the quarter, Vale also produced 69,200 tonnes of nickel and 1.7 million tonnes of coal.
The new iron ore record appears to show Vale is willing to endure short-term price pain to win back market share after Australian competition eroded its lead in recent years. Shares of Vale opened up 2.8 percent in Sao Paulo.
The output announcement came just hours after the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, said it would slow its iron ore expansion plans because of weak prices.
Another Australian competitor, Fortescue Metals Group , recently urged iron ore miners to cap production in the hope of reversing the dramatic plunge in prices.
But Vale Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira told investors in February that the company’s 90-million-tonne expansion project known as S11D in the Brazilian Amazon was “untouchable.” (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer and Jeb Blount; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)