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Australia iron ore miners see a light at the end of the tunnel

Chinese economic stimulus to give Rio Tinto and BHP a leg up

Rio Tinto's fleet of autonomous trucks has helped improve output efficiency at iron ore mines.   © Rio Tinto

SYDNEY -- Mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton both foresee long-awaited upturns in iron ore production in the near future thanks to fresh demand from China, which is rolling out an ambitious economic stimulus program.

Both companies reported year-on-year declines in output of iron ore, the main material used to make steel, for the quarter ended March. Rio in particular was hammered by Tropical Cyclone Veronica, which damaged a Western Australia port late that month. First-quarter iron ore shipments sank 14% to 69.1 million tons, while production declined 9% to 76 million tons.

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