Atlas posts $74m first-half profit

UPDATE 1.55pm: Atlas Iron has posted a first-half profit of $73.7 million, reflecting record production and solid iron ore prices.

The positive result compares with a $256 million loss in the previous corresponding period.

However the Pilbara-focused iron ore miner did not declare an interim dividend.

Record production of 5.1 million tonnes for the period delivered record revenue of $588.2 million, more than double the previous corresponding period's revenue of $288.3 million.

Revenue was also bolstered by a rise in the average realised iron ore price from $US98.50 a tonne in the previous corresponding half, to $US115.60 in the six months to December 31.

Atlas said it was on track to achieve its upgraded guidance of 10.2-10.7 million tonnes for the full 2014 financial year.

The iron ore miner held $389 million gross cash in hand at the end of the period after spending $201 million on investment activities.

Managing director Ken Brinsden said after a period of significant investment in the business, Atlas would have built its currently proposed Horizon 1 mine profile by the end of the calendar year.

"With the Horizon 1 capex nearing an end and the first half results demonstrating the cash flow capacity of the business, Atlas now has the flexibility to consider the various capital management initiatives at its disposal," he said.

"We are now producing at over 10mtpa and heading towards 12mtpa, we have a significant resource base in the Pilbara and port entitlements giving us attractive options for value accretive growth."

Atlas announced separately that it had approved the expansion of its Mt Webber mine to 6mtpa, with operating costs expected to fall significantly.

Shares in Atlas closed down 2.5 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $1.06.

The West Australian

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