(Reuters) – South Africa’s Kumba Iron Ore on Tuesday said its output increased 14% to 9.4 million tonnes in the first quarter, lifted by strong production at its Kolomela mine.
Kumba, a unit of Anglo American Plc, maintained its production forecast for the full year at between 35 million and 37 million tonnes, with sales expected in the 37 million to 39 million tonne range.
Kumba said it was seeing improved demand from China, the miner’s main market, offsetting a slowdown in other markets.
“The demand outlook for our high-quality iron ore product continues to be positive given the steel intensity of the global energy transition,” it said.
Kumba said rail performance improved in the first quarter after maintenance on the line, resulting in a 3% increase in ore railed to port to 9.4 million tonnes, compared to 9.1 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2022.
Rail performance, however, remained below planned levels as state-owned logistics utility Transnet continues to be impacted by a shortage of locomotives as well as theft and vandalism of its infrastructure, costing mineral exporters billions of rand in revenue.
Kumba has joined calls by bulk mineral exporters for private sector involvement in Transnet to improve the stability and reliability of rail and port infrastructure.