Miner Fortescue Metals Group reported a 9% dip in iron ore shipments in the September quarter but beat its forecast for the period.

The company shipped 10.08Mt of iron ore from its mines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region in the three months to September 30, down from 11.04Mt in the June quarter.

‘‘The quarterly result of 10.1Mt of Fortescue shipped product was above guidance of 9.5Mt and was achieved despite a number of scheduled maintenance shuts at the port and the mine’s ore processing facility,’’ Fortescue said.

The company mined 11.05Mt in the September quarter, down 3% from 11.39Mt in the prior quarter. It processed 9.7Mt of ore, down 7% from 10.49Mt in the three months to June 30.

Fortescue said its Chichester operation, comprising the Cloudbreak and Christams Creek mines, should continue to operate at a steady rate of about 40Mt/y until the commissioning of a new OPF at Christmas Creek, scheduled to begin in February 2011. Production will ramp up after that to the company’s 55Mt/y target.

In September, Fortescue completed a feasibility study for stage one mining operations of 60Mt/y at its greenfields Solomon project. Ore from this project will go through the company’s existing Port Hedland facilities.

Fortescue’s expansion beyond 155Mt/y will require a new port at Anketell Point, for which pre-feasibility studies have begun.