Fortescue Metals has revealed that it has shipped its first ore to a non-Chinese customer, calling the contract a milestone for the company.
Speaking with journalists is a teleconference yesterday, Fortescue executive director Russell Scrimshaw would not name the customer, but said it was a significant player in the global iron ore market.
“It is one of the major mills of Asia and a name widely respected in the industry,” he said.
Scrimshaw said that the 170,000 tonne sale is part of Fortescue’s plans to expand its customer base beyond China’s continually growing economy.
“This particular customer, I am certain, will be the first of several who are coming along behind them,” he said.
Speculation suggests that the new customer is most likely Japanese or Korean after Fortescue revealed its talks with those countries last October.
Information of the new customer came after Fortescue yesterday published its latest production report, which showed largely positive results.
The company followed BHP and Rio’s recent strong results, shipping 9.1 million tonnes of ore from its Pilbara operations in the December quarter, a 44% increase on the same period the previous year.
While the result was also a 5% drop from the 9.5 million tonnes shipped in the September quarter, the company blamed the decrease on poor weather conditions and port congestion.
Despite overall production also falling from 10.3 million to 9.15 million tonnes quarter to quarter, Fortescue said that it had exceeded its guidance rate of 35 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) with an effective rate of 36.6 million tonnes for the year.
The company said in October it expects to lift output from about 38 Mtpa to 40 Mtpa this financial year.