SAO PAULO, April 27 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale, one of the world's largest producers of iron ore, reported on Wednesday its first-quarter net profit fell 19.6% to a better than expected $4.45 billion as stronger pricing offset weaker production numbers.
Vale earnings for the three months ended March 31 beat the mean Refinitiv analyst forecast of $4.24 billion.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization came in at $6.37 billion, down 26.1% from the same quarter of 2021.
Vale cited lower sales of iron ore fines and pellets due to an intense rain season in top mining state Minas Gerais.
In January, the miner was hit by heavy rainfall in the region, making it partially suspend operations at its southeastern and southern iron ore systems.
"However, we took advantage of seasonally lower volumes to perform maintenance activities that will lead to safer operations and solid production going forward," Vale's Chief Executive Eduardo Bartolomeo said in a statement.
Vale benefited from core metals iron ore, copper and nickel rising in price compared to the last quarter of last year. In the first three months of 2022, Vale realized $141.4 per tonne of iron ore fines, up from the $106.8 reported in the fourth quarter.
Vale also expects iron ore demand to rise in the U.S.
"Solid demand will keep industrial production growing in 2022 with delayed orders for factories with pandemic fading away," the miner said.
At the same time, freight costs have risen since January because of higher energy prices, Vale said.
Reporting by Peter Frontini and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Leslie Adler, Chris Reese and Bernard Orr