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BHP posts record iron ore production

SYDNEY, Oct 21 – The world\’s biggest mining company BHP Billiton Wednesday announced record iron ore production for the quarter, but said a clear picture on demand from major market China had yet to emerge.

The Anglo-Australian group said output of the key steel-making ingredient rose 11 percent over the previous quarter to 30.1 million tonnes for the three months ending September 30 and was up 1.0 percent over the same period in 2008.

"Production was higher than the June 2009 quarter, reflecting improved performance at Western Australia Iron Ore and all three pellet plants at Samarco (Brazil) operating since July 2009," BHP said in a statement.

BHP Billiton said there had been increasingly positive news across most economies, with China experiencing robust economic growth due to strong domestic demand and stimulus spending.

"China\’s re-stock of commodities is essentially complete and there is now evidence of higher than normal stockpiles across the supply chain," it said.

"We continue to look for Chinese imports to more closely reflect real demand over the remainder of 2009 calendar year."

The iron ore production figure failed to meet some analysts\’ expectations, particularly after rival Rio Tinto earlier this month said its output for the same quarter was up 12 percent compared with a year earlier.

"I thought it might surprise on the upside and it didn\’t do that," ABN AMRO analyst Warren Edney told Dow Jones Newswires.

BHP Billiton also said it achieved record petroleum production — up 18 percent over the September 2008 quarter to 41.2 million barrels of oil equivalent — due to the success of projects in the US and Western Australia.

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