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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Find below our daily feed of market analysis


Daily iron ore price update (runaway steel)

Texture from Reuters: Richard Lu, a senior analyst at metals consultancy CRU’s Beijing office, said the rally in steel prices remained supported by fundamentals in the physical market, with inventories falling and demand picking up. He also said a new round of operating restrictions on Chinese steel mills was possible. Rubbish. And the outlook is


Daily iron ore price update (a crawl)

Textur from Reuters: “Steel margins remain on the upward trend and as it stands we are back to early May levels,” said Hui Heng Tan, research analyst at commodity broker Marex Spectron. Margins have improved in the wake of declines in prices of feedstocks such as iron ore and coke. Spot prices of benchmark 62%


Daily iron ore price update (fly be free)

It’s all good again as steel and iron ore enjoy another bounce following China’s lousy growth report last week: China’s industrial economy is pretty weak but it is still being supported by the runaway building of empty apartments across lower tier cities. Thus things are still not bad enough for any material shift towards more


Daily iron ore price update (Pavlov’s dogs)

Texture from Reuters: Steel output was also curtailed by poor profits at mills. Besides surging iron ore prices that have pressured steel firms this year, analysts also noted that output from electric arc furnaces has been affected by higher scrap steel prices. “The price for steel scrap increased by almost 100 yuan ($14.30) per tonne


China wins right to develop African Pilbara killer

Via the FT: A Chinese-backed joint venture has secured the rights to develop Simandou, one of the world’s biggest untapped deposits of steelmaking ingredient iron ore. The award to the SMB-Winning consortium, whose investors include Chinese aluminium producer Shandong Weiqiao and the Yantaï Port Group, brings the development of a mine a step closer. Simandou


Daily iron ore price update (Hedland)

Texture via Reuters: Benchmark Dalian iron ore futures jumped in morning trade on Wednesday, extending gains for a second session, after China’s Premier Li Keqiang again vowed to ensure that key economic goals for this year are achieved. China should keep macro policies stable, improve the use of local government special bonds and strengthen support


More reasons to be bearish iron ore

Via GLJ research: Iron Ore Prices Have Been Getting Battered Lately, at a Time When Seasonal and Cyclical Factors Suggest Prices Should Be Seeing Some Support; but, Given an Array of Company Production Updates + Trends in Seaborne Imports + Structural Changes in Chinese Steel Production, We Believe we Understand Why Prices Are “Bucking the


Daily iron ore price update (free fall)

Texture from Reuters: “The ferrous market is on the weakest front as steel mills are destocking for the end-of-year financial accounting,” said Darren Toh, data scientist with Singapore-based steel and iron data analytics company Tivlon Technologies. Steel inventories in China stood at 8.9 million tonnes as of Nov.7, the lowest level since Jan.11, according to


The baffling strength of iron ore revenues

I was going to write this post yesterday but Damien Boey has beaten me to it: The trade balance has come in surprisingly strong, delivering “nominal easing” to offshore-exposed companies and their relatives. The September trade balance surprised well and truly to the upside, rising to $7.2 billion from an upwardly-revised $6.6 billion. We were


Daily iron ore price update (reluctant)

Texture from Reuters: Notwithstanding the pressure from stabilising supply from top exporters Brazil and Australia, iron ore prices should find support as steel margins have improved, analysts at ANZ Research said in a note. “Steel mills have been reluctant to restock raw materials as margins fell amid a gloomy outlook for steel demand,” they said.


Daily iron ore price update (stuck)

Texture from MySteel: Many Chinese steelmakers, together with some iron ore traders, are actively drawing down their iron ore stocks at hand when mills in many areas are facing frequent curbs on their steelmaking operations, affecting iron ore consumption, Mysteel Global learned Tuesday. “We are cutting our procurement of seaborne iron ore cargoes from the


Daily iron ore price update (coke smoke)

Texture from Reuters: Coking coal futures in China gained the most in four weeks on Tuesday amid market talks about fresh import curbs on the steelmaking raw material, following brisk purchases in recent months by the world’s biggest coal buyer and consumer. …With China’s coking coal imports in the first nine months of the year


Daily iron ore price update (the trapdoor)

Texture from Reuters: Vale, the world’s largest iron ore miner, said on Friday that Brazilian regulator ANM had allowed it to resume its Alegria mine operations, which were interrupted last March after a “stress test” failed to guarantee its stability. company said the resumption of mining activities at Alegria will allow it to restore 8


Daily iron pore price update (Brazil surge)

Texture from Reuters: “(Iron ore) is getting hit from both sides – softening demand and improving supplies from Australia and Brazil in the second half of 2019,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a note. Hebei province has issued an “orange” smog alert effective Nov. 1, with pollution expected to be “severe”, the local environment


A new iron ore deluge builds

Via RIO at Bloomie: Iron ore shipments from Rio Tinto Group could rise as much as 5% in 2020 as the producer recovers from operational issues in Australia this year, the exporter says Thursday. The No. 2 miner will also have consistent capacity for volumes of about 360m tons a year once a first phase of the


Daily iron ore price update (warning siren)

There are major warning sirens blaring around the ferrous complex. Texture from Reuters: “Expectations for steel consumption was pretty bad, but fell too much,” said Zhao Yu, an analyst with Huatai Futures. “Now it turns out (consumption is) not that bad, so prices recouped.” She added that the consumption was mainly in real estate and


Daily iron ore price update (plenty)

Texture from Bloomie: Cargoes of the steelmaking material shipped via Hedland may swell to a new high in the fiscal year to June 2020, and over this calendar year may beat 2018’s total, Chief Executive Officer Roger Johnston said in an interview. Last year, iron ore volumes were 508.5 million tons, with most going to


Daily iron ore price update (ports)

Texture from Reuters: “Investors remained cautious amid subdued Chinese steel margins and construction demand,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note. “An undersupplied (global) market remains the reality and this has seen prices holding up near $90 a tonne,” ANZ analysts said. Rubbish. The market is oversupplied and will get more so when Vale returns


Daily iron ore price update (February)

Texture from Reuters: But Darren Toh, data scientist at Singapore-based steel and iron data analytics company Tivlon Technologies, said he remained bullish on iron ore. Steel inventory is easing and the pace of infrastructure projects is accelerating, said Toh, adding that increasing property investment was also being seen. Meh. It’s seasonal. To the charts: Spot


Daily iron ore price update (Samarco)

Texture from Reuters: Steel product inventories in China notched up a third weekly decline in the week to Oct. 25, down 600,000 tonnes from the previous week at 9.85 million tonnes, marking the lowest level since mid-January, according to data compiled by Mysteel consultancy. That is normal for time of year and it has cleared


Daily iron ore update (restock time?)

Texture from Reuters: “While Tangshan cities are facing production curbs to reduce pollution, other steel plants are reported to increase their production because of attractive profitability,” Argonaut Securities said in a note. China’s top steelmaking province of Hebei had implemented overnight inspections on illegal industrial works and emissions as an effort to crack down pollution,


Daily iron ore price update (Vale schmale)

Texture from Reuters: China’s iron ore futures extended gains for a third session, buoyed by continued supply worries, after Brazil’s Vale closed a tailing dam earlier this month, and lowered full year iron ore and pellet sales guidance The increase in prices was curbed by cooling demand as China is coming into autumn-winter heating season,