Rio Tinto has recorded higher iron-ore production at its Pilbara operations in Western Australia and overseas.

In releasing its first-quarter production report, the global miner's chief executive, Tom Albanese, said most of the company’s operations continued to run at capacity.

“Chinese demand grew strongly and we saw some recovery in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) markets, but we are still cautious about short-term volatility,” he said.

“The long-term outlook remains very strong and we are now ramping up our growth projects with sustained investment in our iron-ore business.”

Rio Tinto’s global iron-ore production rose 39% from 31.2Mt in the rain-affected first quarter of last year to 43.4Mt for the first quarter of this year.

Production from all miners in the Pilbara region, which Rio wants to join with BHP Billiton in a $US116bn joint venture, reached 53Mt, up 49% on the previous corresponding period.

Rio sold all its first-quarter iron ore production, which was 6% lower than record fourth quarter sales but 34% up on the same time last year. Shipments totalled 217Mt in the past year.

Rio gave production guidance from its Australian and Canadian iron-ore operations for the year of 234Mt.