Iron ore miner Atlas Iron has joined Western Australia's top producers in reporting a solid second quarter performance.
The company reported a 10 per cent increase in the amount of ore shipped over the three months to December - up from 1.59 million tonnes to 1.7 million tonnes - to keep it in line with production forecasts for the quarter.
It comes after Fortescue Metals yesterday reported a 22 per cent increase on its amount of ore shipped in the December quarter to a total 19.6 million tonnes.
BHP BIlliton announced the final six months of 2012 as a "record" for iron ore production in which 81.96 million tonnes of ore was produced from Western Australian operations.
Last week Rio Tinto posted its full year results in which the 252 million tonnes of ore produced beat its own target of 250 million tonnes.
The recovery in iron ore prices has benefitted all the major miners, with Atlas Iron today announcing it has managed to fetch an average headline price of US$106 per tonne, up from an average of per tonne in the September quarter.
The price rise was a result of improvements in China's economy and a boost in sentiment as a result of a change in government.
Prices have continued to rise significantly since the end of December, with one shipment selling for a tonne in January, Atlas said.
However, the high Australian dollar remains a dampener on earnings, it added.
The company is due to release its financial results for the six months to December on February 26.
Atlas expects its production to reach 10 million tonnes per annum by June 2013, and is targetting production of 12 million tonnes per annum by December.
Its cash operating costs in the December quarter were within its guidance of to per tonne, and Atlas says it expects costs over the full year to remain within that range.