Vale SA's iron ore production in the fourth quarter of 2018 totaled 101.0 million tonnes, rising 8.2% year over year from 93.4 million tonnes in the year-ago period, according to the company's annual production report released March 26.
Full-year 2018 output increased 4.9% to 384.6 million tonnes, from 366.5 million tonnes in the previous year.
Iron ore sales slightly improved to 80.5 million tonnes, up 0.7% from 80.0 million tonnes in the comparative period. Total iron ore sales for the year grew 6.1% to 309.0 million tonnes, from 291.3 million tonnes in 2017.
Iron ore pellet production in the December 2018 quarter reached 15.8 million tonnes, up 22.6% year over year due to the ramp-up of the Tubarão I, Tubarão II and São Luis pellet plants. Full-year production rose 9.9% year over year to 55.3 million tonnes.
Fourth-quarter sales of iron ore pellets jumped 17.7% year over year to 16.0 million tonnes, while 2018 sales climbed 9.3% to 56.6 million tonnes.
Vale's strategy to downsize its nickel operations affected output, which suffered a 17.9% yearly decline in the fourth quarter to 64,000 tonnes and a 15.1% drop to 244,600 tonnes for the full year.
The transition to a smaller nickel footprint also hit copper production, which dipped 3.3% year over year to 109,800 tonnes in the fourth quarter and plunged 9.8% to 395,500 tonnes for the full year.
Fourth-quarter 2018 coal output increased 20.7% year over year to 3.1 million tonnes, bringing total 2018 production to 11.6 million tonnes, up 3.1% from 2017. To achieve a sustainable ramp-up in 2019, Vale said it will develop initiatives to increase mine capacity and plant yields.
Meanwhile, Vale said the mine closures in the wake of the Feijao dam disaster in January would have a total annual production impact of about 92.8 million tonnes of iron ore and 11 million tonnes of iron ore pellets.