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 (Brucutu)

Iron ore prices for March 20, 2019: Spot hammered. Paper worse. Steel fine. Chinese iron ore port stock lifted to 148.2mt last week. Bloomie has more on Brucutu: Bradesco BBI, Thiago Lofiego Positive development for Vale. However, it’s still uncertain if the company can regain the provisional operating license under which it operated the Laranjeiras


Daily iron ore price update (Mr Russell)

Iron ore price charts for March 12, 2019: Spot bounced. Paper firmed. Steel jumped. There’s still no clarity here, a point made nicely by Clyde Russell: The first fact worth noting is that China, which produces just over half of the world’s steel, hasn’t really slowed output of the metal much, despite considerable media reporting of


Daily iron ore price update (if not for Vale…)

Iron ore prices for March 9, 2018: Spot crunched. Paper more so overnight. Coking coal too. Steel OK. Chinese trade data showed a mixed picture with steel export up decently year on year over Jan/Feb: But that is usually a bearish signal for Chinese steel demand which only ships more oversees when local conditions deteriorate.


Daily iron ore price update (all over the shop)

Iron ore prices for March 4, 2019: Spot down. Paper down more. Coking coal stable. Steel strong. We’re entering a seasonal period when iron ore would normally be falling but that has been badly compromised by the Vale accident and Chinese stimulus efforts such as they are. That has destocking mills battling with other extraneous


Daily iron ore price update (Rio booms)

by Chris Becker Iron ore prices continue to slide with both spot and futures markets putting in a sixth straight loss. Port inventories rose to just over 145 million tonnes last week, the highest since September 2018, but steel demand should kick in soon. Texture from Reuters: The spring period beginning in March, after China’s


Daily iron ore price update (Brazilian push)

by Chris Becker Iron ore prices nearly hit a monthly low yesterday as reduced steel production and increased Brazilian exports weighed on the complex. Dalian prices are down nearly 10%, although rebar prices continue to climb: From IG: Brazil’s daily exports reached 1.4 million tonnes of iron ore per business day, despite last month’s mine


Daily iron ore price update (restocking concerns)

by Chris Becker The iron ore complex was not buoyed by positive statements from the US and China trade delegations yesterday, with spot prices in Tianjin plus Dalian futures falling as restocking levels are not as strong as expected following the Lunar New Year holiday: More on the restocking from SPGlobal: Traded levels for Australian Pilbara


Daily iron ore price update (Brazilian supply dent)

by Chris Becker The iron ore complex was relatively quiet on Friday with spot prices retreating slightly, futures edged higher on anticipation of advancements in US/China trade talks: Meanwhile, the supply hits keep on coming with Brazilian supply at risk again throughout 2019. Texture from Excluding Vale (NYSE:VALE), close to 8 million tonnes of


Daily iron ore price update (Vale’s agony)

Iron ore prices for February 18, 2019: Spot and paper up. Steel down. Ferrous and steel markets are headed in opposite directions. This is unsustainable as Chinese steel mill profits collapse. Normally, bulks would getting caned right about now but the artificial prop is Vale, via AFR: Brazil’s government on Monday banned new upstream mining


Daily iron ore price update (bust)

Iron ore prices for February 12, 2019: Spot is tumbling. Paper fell further overnight. The panic is ebbing. Clyde Russell has a nice little piece on where we’re headed: Firstly, Chinese steel mills can substitute higher-quality iron ore with lower grades, which are likely to be more readily available, but this will result in lower


UBS: Vale’s iron ore problems deepen

Via UBS today: Court orders closure 30mtpa Brucutu mine; this was not expected by Vale Yesterday a Brazilian court ordered Vale to halt activity at 8 tailings dams, including 3 built using the “upstream” method & 5 “downstream” dams ( news); as a result of this Vale has stopped production at its 30mtpa Brucutu mine