The world's fourth-largest iron ore miner, Fortescue Metals Group, has reported an 8.6 per cent fall in first-quarter iron ore shipments as pollution curbs in China reduced demand for its lower grade ore.
FMG shipped 40.2 million tonnes in the September quarter, down from 44 million tonnes a year ago, the company said in a statement.
It maintained its fiscal 2019 production guidance at 165 million to 173 million tonnes.
FMG has been hit by falling prices for its lower grade iron ore as Chinese steel mills have turned to higher-grade, less-polluting iron ore. The lower prices led to a halving of its profit for the fiscal year to end-June 2018.
The miner has since looked to clamp down on costs and is aiming to grow margins with a new, higher grade product.
However, cash production costs averaged $US13.19 per wet metric tonne over the quarter, nearly 9 percent higher than the year-ago period, due to maintenance, overburden removal and higher fuel costs.
FMG maintained its 2019 cost guidance at $US12-$US13 per wet metric tonne.
"Shipments of our 60.1 per cent iron grade product, West Pilbara Fines are scheduled to commence from December this year, further enhancing our product mix," chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said in a statement.
The miner said it expected to deliver between 5 million and 10 million tonnes of the higher grade ore during the second half of fiscal 2019.
FMG also said the discount for its lower quality ore has narrowed, with the miner receiving 67 per cent of the average benchmark Platts 62 CFR index for its ore during the quarter, up from 63 per cent in the previous quarter.