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Johannesburg – Kumba Iron Ore says its flagship Sishen mine improved production 31 percent year-on-year.

This, it says in a statement released on Monday, saw production gain to 7.7 million tons thanks to increased plant throughput in the three months to March.

The Anglo American company notes its export sales gained 7 percent to 10.1 million tons thanks to a 17 percent increase in total production.

However, quarter-on-quarter, production dropped 10 percent as anticipated as the fourth quarter 2016 benefitted from greater access to low strip ratio ore.

Waste removal of 34 million tons, in line with the first quarter of 2016,  was hampered by higher than expected rainfall during the quarter, it says.

However, mining rates improved in the latter part of the quarter to levels required to meet full year guidance of 150-160 million tons.

Kumba notes Kolomela production increased by 3 percent to 2.8 million tons year-on-year, driven by higher plant throughput.

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However, production quarter-on-quarter was down 10 percent due to rain stoppages.

Waste mined at Kolomela increased by 32 percent to 10.1 million tons in support of production growth and ongoing improvements in operational and mining efficiency.

Going forward, waste removal is expected to improve to meet full year guidance for 2017 of 50-55 million tons.