SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian miner Vale SA first-quarter iron ore production fell 6.0% from the previous year, hit by heavy rainfall in January in Minas Gerais state which curbed its main production.

The company’s iron ore output was 63.9 million tonnes in the period, down 22.5% from the final quarter of 2021.

Production was lower also due to major maintenance services, which should be positive for the rest of the year, allowing Vale to maintain its annual guidance of 320-335 million tonnes of iron ore.

The miner sold 53.6 million tonnes of iron ore in the quarter, down 9.6% year-on-year. Including pellets, total iron ore sales volume was 60.6 million tonnes with a premium of $9 per tonne over benchmark iron ore with 62% iron content.

Vale said its nickel production for the quarter fell 5.4% to 45.8 thousand tonnes, while nickel sales fell 18.8%.

The decrease was due to Vale’s inventory strategy to cover sales commitments during a planned maintenance period in the Sudbury mine expected for the second quarter.

(Reporting by Peter Frontini; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast.)