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 (spot weakness)

Texture from Argus: China’s steel sector profitability remained sluggish in the peak sales month of October as a slowing economy and high output rates pressured product prices. The average gross profit margin on rebar sales is around 200-400 yuan/t ($29-57/t) and up to Yn200/t for hot-rolled coil (HRC), with some HRC sellers barely breaking even


Daily iron ore price update (conniption)

Texture from Reuters: China’s central province of Henan has issued an orange smog alert, the second highest in the nation’s three-tier pollution alarm system, which will be applied to 12 cities. The alert means pollution controls in heavy industries, including steel and coke, will be strengthened from Oct. 18 to Oct. 23. In China’s top


Why iron ore is going back to $20

Via Argus: Higher pollutant emission standards for China’s steel industry continued to drive the country’s steel scrap usage for steel production higher in the first six months of this year. Chinese steel scrap consumption rose significantly, by 20.7pc on the year to 103.28mn t in January-June from 85.57mn t in the same period in 2018,


What killed coking coal?

Via Wood Mackenzie: There has been an uneasy tension around hard coking coal (HCC) prices for some time. Few would argue that US$200/t prices for seaborne HCCs were sustainable. But at the same time, the market had become accustomed to sky-high prices, kept artificially strong while China focused on restructuring its steel and coal sectors.


Daily iron ore price update (the thumpening)

Texture from Reuters: Benchmark Dalian iron ore futures slumped in morning trade on Wednesday, extending losses into a third session, after China’s top steelmaking city of Tangshan issued a second-level smog alert that requires mills to further limit operations. …The losses widened further after China outlined its annual anti-pollution plan for winter in a document


CBA: Iron ore to hammer nominal GDP, Budget

Via CBA today: Australia’s key commodity prices to ease from here ■ We see Australia’s key commodity prices moving lower from here. ■ But despite lower commodity prices, Australia’s external sector should have another good year as export volumes continue to lift and the lower Australian dollar boosts our competitiveness. ■ An expected decline in


RIO opens iron ore flood gates

Via RIO: Pilbara operations Third quarter production of 87.3 million tonnes (Rio Tinto share 72.2 million tonnes) was 6% higher than the same quarter of 2018 and 10% higher than the previous quarter. This reflects a solid performance in the mines, with actions progressing as planned. Our increased focus on waste material movement and pit


Daily iron ore price update (steel output)

Texture from Reuters: Concerns about iron ore demand slowing in China, which makes about half of the world’s steel output, due to its renewed efforts to curb pollution by restricting steel mills operations in some areas also weighed on prices. Vale, the world’s top iron ore exporter and China’s major source of high-grade material, on


Vale readies the iron ore flood

Via Vale: Rio de Janeiro, October 14th, 2019 – Vale S.A (“Vale”) iron ore fines production and sales had a significant increase in 3Q19, as a result of the continuous progress in the resumption of operations in the Southern and Southeastern Systems and also due to the strong operational performance and shipments normalization in the


Daily iron ore price update (under pressure)

Texture from Reuters: Benchmark Dalian iron ore and coke futures slumped more than 2% in late trade on Monday following growing concerns about demand for the steelmaking raw materials, amid China’s renewed efforts to curb pollution by restricting steel mills operations. “Traders have been wary of the impact of ongoing restrictions on steel mills in


Daily iron ore price update (Q2, 2020)

Texture from Reuters: “The combination of weak demand and relatively high supply is weighing on steel prices,” said Richard Lu, senior analyst at metals consultancy CRU in Beijing. Reports that China’s top steelmaking city of Tangshan has issued new anti-pollution restrictions on mill operations, effective from Oct. 10 up to Oct. 31, did not help


Daily iron ore price update (Vale)

Texture from Argus: “Steel mills in Tangshan have received the notice and started shutting down production. These set of restrictions are even stricter than the September restrictions,” said the manager of a Tangshan-based mill. “Restrictions will support steel prices. Iron ore demand may not fall significantly as sintering has been under controls of varying extents


Fortescue demands Australia kow tow to China

Via The Australian comes the oligarchs: Fortescue Metals Group boss Elizabeth Gaines has warned that China will look to develop alternative iron ore supplies outside the Pilbara if Australia neglects its relationship with its biggest trading partner…Ms Gaines said the Australian business community needed to maintain its influence in public debate on political policies. “The


Daily iron ore price update (unexpected)

Texture from Reuters: Steel inventories in China stood at 11.4 million tonnes as of Oct.7, up 594,100 tonnes compared with the week ended Sep. 26 but still the second lowest since late June, according to data from consultancy Mysteel. “Output curbs have eased after the National Day holiday, which piled pressures to (the) supply side,”


Daily iron ore price update (return to Eden)

Texture from Reuters: Steel sales in China, however, have softened as growth in the machinery sector slowed, while the offset from infrastructure has not been sufficient, Westpac analysts said. “The Chinese administration clearly stated at the July Politburo economic meeting that property will not be used to boost growth this time so this significant part


Iron ore’s scraptastrophe builds

Recently even BHP was bearish about it: BHP stopped short of saying exactly when China would hit peak steel, choosing to say that it was plateauing and would peak sometime in the 2019-2025 timeframe. One Belt One Road (OBOR) was seen contributing to 1% pa growth in Chinese steel demand while domestically demand is flat.


UBS: BHP very bearish iron ore

Via UBS’ Glynn Lawcock: BHP painted a not too rosy a picture for the global economy saying it thought the business cycle had peaked with autos and semi-conductors putting a big hole in Europe and Japan growth while China policy is only helping to offset but not add to growth. Essentially BHP pointed to weak


Daily iron ore price update (PMI sick)

Texture from Reuters: China will “continue to implement a prudent monetary policy and increase the strength of counter-cyclical measures”, the central bank said in a statement on Sunday. expect more policy easing/stimulus measures, including medium-term lending facility rate and reserve requirement ratio cuts through the rest of this year to stabilise market sentiment and bolster


Daily iron ore price update (coke broke)

Texture from Reuters: “The rebound in the futures markets is just sentiment-driven,” a Shanghai-based trader said. “It’s very quiet now in the physical market because of the upcoming holiday.” Cities surrounding Beijing have imposed routine output curbs on steel mills, coking coal producers and other industries to improve air quality as the nation prepares to


Daily iron ore price update (Waiting for Godot)

Texture from Reuters: Prices of seaborne thermal and coking coal in China have declined by around 30% year-on-year, mainly driven by reduced demand, said Helen Lau, metals and mining analyst at Argonaut Securities. China’s coking coal purchases, meanwhile, have been “quite strong”, surging 20% to 53 million tonnes in the first eight months of this


China: No stimulus for you!

Via Bloomie: China isn’t in a rush to add massive monetary stimulus, in contrast with other central banks around the world, and must maintain a prudent policy stance, central bank Governor Yi Gang said. Overall financial risks are contained and those in the shadow banking sector and some key institutions have been resolved, said Yi,


Daily iron ore price update (head and shoulders)

Texture from Reuters: Cities surrounding Beijing have imposed routine output curbs on steel mills, coking coal producers and other industries to improve air quality as the nation prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1. China’s northern regions are facing a sustained period of pollution for at


Bulk commodity juniors punished

A few thing are beginning to break as bulk commodity alarms go off. The thermal and coking coal crashes have claimed Whitehaven: Goldman Sachs has cut its target price for Whitehaven Coal by 7 per cent after the coal miner’s inaugural investor day. The target price was cut to $2.70 a share from $2.90 a


Daily iron ore price update (steel gusher)

Texture from Reuters: China steel futures rose on Monday, rebounding from a two-week low on falling inventory and fuelled by tightening output curbs in smog-prone cities pledged by the environment regulator ahead of the heating season. …Steel products’ stockpile in China dropped for the sixth week to 11.4 million tonnes in the week ended Sept.20


China runs out of railways to build

This is the problem, via SCMP: China’s spending on railways, a key driver for growth in the last decade, tumbled in August – in part because all major towns are now covered by the country’s extensive railway network. China’s economic planning agency said on Wednesday that railway fixed-asset investment was 449.6 billion yuan (US$63 billion)