Rio eyes on-time iron ore ramp up

Major miner expects price volatility but says long-term forecasts intact.

Rio Tinto (RIO) chief executive of iron ore Andrew Harding said his company's current iron ore production ramp up to 290 million tonnes per annum was expected to be achieved ahead of schedule.

"I'm confident overall 360 million tonne production will be delivered on time and on budget," Mr Harding told an iron ore conference in Perth.

He said the recent steep falls in iron ore prices, to around $US105 per tonne, had been caused by a credit squeeze in China as stockpiles remained high.

"So sentiment has turned to a rapid change," Mr Harding said.

"I expect volatility on a regular basis."

Still, Rio Tinto has maintained its forecasts were underpinned by global urbanisation.

"The longer term is still intact," he said.

"I can't see any change to forecasts."

China was now taking its environmental concerns more seriously which would lead to a gradual improvement in price premiums, he said.

At the same conference, BHP Billiton's iron ore president Jimmy Wilson said the group remains confident global demand for iron ore will continue to grow, though likely at a more moderate rate.