Iron ore price

Iron ore price, steel price and futures published daily

The contemporary seaborne iron ore price first emerged in 2003 when the Chinese development model shifted up a gear. Indian suppliers broke free of an annual contract pricing system that had been dominated by Australia, Brazil and Japan for decades.

As Chinese demand surged, traditional supply and pricing mechanisms could not keep pace. Indian miners in Goa and Karnataka had surplus supply and filled China’s marginal new needs outside the old benchmarking system.

But it still wasn’t enough and other non-traditional suppliers began to emerge in South America and Africa. These needed more dynamic pricing mechanisms and by 2008 Platts, Metal Bulletin and The Steel Index were publishing a daily iron ore price.

As the Chinese demand surge continued, by 2007, major Australian iron ore miners were charging enormous premiums to prices from five years earlier. The annual benchmarking system began to strain to the point breaking, including significant diplomatic tensions between Australia and China. This culminated in a proposed merger of BHP and RIO Tinto which triggered panic in Beijing as it feared an already supply-constrained market and soaring iron ore price would by made worse by monopoly pricing. The Chinese SOE, Chinalco, moved the buy a blocking stake in RIO Tinto.

However, the GFC intervened and deflated tensions as Chinese demand collapsed. But Chinese steel mills found themselves still tied to very high prices and an annual iron ore price benchmark that did not reflect the new reality. Many defaulted on cargoes and walked away from deals.

To fight the downturn, China unleashed an enormous fiscal and monetary stimulus that soon had China building more than ever. The demand for iron ore rocketed to all new highs. With the memory of contract defaults fresh in their minds, major Australian miners, led by BHP and CEO Marius Kloppers, abandoned the annual benchmarks, forcing Chinese steel mills to adopt a short term iron ore price using spot and quarterly contracts. Brazil joined in in 2010.

The spot iron ore price soared to all new highs and triggered a global wave of new supply from producers such as Fortescue Metals Group, Ferrexpo, Kumba Iron Ore, Anglo American and Sino Iron.

With the rise of the short term iron ore price market, iron ore derivative markets grew. First in the Singapore on the SGX and later in China as the Dalian Commodities Exchange and the United States at Chicago Commodities Exchange (CME). Iron ore derivatives could hedge and future price iron ore output.

These last developments coincided with the peak in the China boom and prices began to fall from 2012. After peaking above $190 per tonne, the iron ore price collapsed into the $30s in 2015 as new supply outstripped demand.

Ahead were still many years of oversupply, a lower iron ore price, consolidation and mine closures.

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Daily iron ore price update (she’s gunna break)

Iron ore prices for November 13, 2018: Spot fell. Paper too. Steel held up. Late October CISA steel output came off sharply as it should with falling seasonal demand. Surely she’s going to break here. Demand is waning with questions over Chinese stimulus. Supply issues in Peru, Brazil and Pilbara are resolved. Mills are destocking


Daily iron ore price update (not obvious)

Iron ore price charts for November 9, 2018: Spot jumped. Paper fell. Steel firmed. BHP is back: “Rail operations recommenced last night with additional controls in place to ensure safe operations.”  A regulatory investigation is ongoing, and controls on board the trains have been risk assessed. The investigation will attempt to understand what happened after


Daily iron ore price update (ghost train)

Iron ore prices for November 5, 2018: Spot jumped. Paper too. Because this: A train loaded with iron ore and operated by BHP ran away without a driver for 57 miles (92km) before being forcibly derailed, the company and Australian authorities have said. On Monday, the world’s biggest miner suspended all Western Australian iron ore rail operations while


As BHP hoses cash to foreigners, do recall it’s your kid’s dough

UBS wraps it up nicely for BHP: BHP has today announced that it will return the full US$10.4bn net proceeds from shale to shareholders almost immediately through a combination of an off-market buyback in Nov/Dec 18 (US$5.2bn) and a special dividend of US$5.2bn (~US$1.01ps) payable in January 2019. Further returns expected at the half year


China’s scraptastrophe builds

Bloomie has a little coverage the Chinese steel scraptastrophe today: With tighter emission limits, improved furnace technology and output curbs, mills are using more scrap than ever before, according to Goh Kian Guan, chief investment officer at recycler Chiho Environmental Group Ltd. If a steelmaker is causing too much pollution, “there’ll be a chance they


Daily iron ore price update (boomchakalaka)

Iron ore prices for October 26, 2018: Spot up. Paper up more. Steel up. There’s no downside here. Steel inventories are drawing despite massive output. Moderate stimulus is underway and it’s going to turn aggressive as tariffs weigh on industrial output. Xi Jinping has promised MOAR. Coking coal supply is squeezed. It’s boom chakalaka!


Daily iron ore price update (whatever it takes)

Iron ore prices for October 22, 2018: Spot rocket. Steel rocket. And why not. Yesterday Xi Jinping issued his “whatever it takes” moment via Bloomie: President Xi Jinping vowed “unwavering” support for non-state firms over the weekend, the country’s stock exchanges committed to help manage share-pledge risks, and the government released a plan to cut personal