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Australia's Roy Hill says can expand iron ore capacity beyond target

QINGDAO, China, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Australian iron ore miner Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd has the ability to expand its production capacity beyond the 55 million tonnes it has targeted, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Roy Hill, controlled by Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, is closing in on that 55 million tonnes a year goal as it expects to export at least 4.6 million tonnes this month from Australia's Port Hedland, Barry Fitzgerald said on the sidelines of an industry conference in China.

"We're not saying we're at 55 (million tonnes). We are saying we expect to be there by Christmas," Fitzgerald told Reuters.

When that targeted production capacity is achieved, the company will "consolidate that, we'll improve our reliability ... and then focus on incremental capacity to optimize whatever our facilities can do," he said.

Asked whether Roy Hill's iron ore capacity could be increased to more than 55 million tonnes, Fitzgerald said: "We think we've got some inherent capacity in our plants."

The ramp-up in Roy Hill's capacity along with the gradual production increase from top iron ore producer Vale's S11D expansion project in Brazil has helped boost global supply of the steelmaking raw material this year.

The price of iron ore <.IO62-CNO=MB> has fallen by nearly a third from this year's peak to trade at $64.95 a tonne on Tuesday.

Roy Hill sells its iron ore output to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)