(Reuters) - Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd on Tuesday reported a 14 percent drop in quarterly iron ore shipments and cut its 2019 shipments estimate on disruption caused by a tropical cyclone that hit its export terminal in Western Australia last month.
Rio, the world's No. 2 miner of the steelmaking material, cut its annual iron ore shipments estimate to a range of 333 million to 343 million from a range of 338 million to 350 million tonnes announced earlier.
Rio shipped 69.1 million tonnes in the quarter ended March 31, down from 80.3 million tonnes last year and well below the Goldman Sachs estimate of 74.7 million tonnes.
Cyclone Veronica disrupted ports used by miners Rio and BHP Group in late March. Rio earlier flagged a loss of about 14 million tonnes of production in 2019 due to disruption caused by the tropical cyclone and a fire at a port facility in January.
"Our iron ore business faced several challenges at the start of this year, particularly from tropical cyclones. As a result, and following the continuing assessment of damage at the port resulting from the cyclones and other minor disruptions, 2019 guidance for Pilbara shipments is reduced..." Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said, referring to the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The hit to production, coupled with the ramifications of the Vale dam disaster in Brazil, have propelled iron ore prices to multi-year highs this year, boosting shares of miners.
(For an interactive graphic on Rio Tinto's quarterly Pilbara iron ore shipments since second-quarter of 2016, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2X1i6DV)
(Reporting by Aditya Soni and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman)