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 (glut)

Reuters has the texture: Overall short-term macroeconomic conditions in China remain “bearish”, said commodities broker Marex Spectron. “We continue to pick up weakness in manufacturing and construction activity, which should mean steel demand will come under pressure,” said Marex analyst Hui Heng Tan in Singapore. “We are bearish on current demand conditions (for iron ore).”


Daily iron ore price update (Hedland hurl)

Reuters has the wrap: The most-active DCE iron ore contract closed down 1.2% at 899.5 yuan a ton, while the rest of China’s ferrous complex edged higher. “You may see some correction today, or maybe tomorrow, but generally speaking, the uptrend is intact, with demand still supporting the prices,” a Shanghai-based trader said. China’s government


Daily iron ore price update (glowing short)

The spot price crawled higher. Paper sold off. Steel isn’t going anywhere. In news, China is hammering speculators via Dalian price hikes, at Reuters: * China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) said it will raise transaction fees for all iron ore futures contracts to 0.01% from 0.006% of the trading value, starting July 18, the bourse


Daily iron ore price update (another run)

Spot jumped. Paper went nutso. Steel was firm but is still stuck. It was all about Chinese data which showed a big push into MOAR empty apartments: I just don’t think that this matters terribly. Record steel output: Hasn’t triggered much activity in Chinese iron ore imports even accounting for recent supply weakness: Presumably owing to


Aussie coal piles up off China

Via The Australian: Some 15 million tonnes of Australian thermal coal worth more than $1 billion is waiting to clear customs in China, according to industry analyst Platts, with no sign of an easing in processing delays imposed since February. “Thermal coal market participants say they are yet to see any changes to Beijing’s import


Daily iron ore price update (car sales down)

by Chris Becker The iron ore complex slumped yesterday for the second straight session as falling car sales took the bite out of the supply crunch:   More from Reuters: China is likely to see a further drop in vehicle sales this year compared to expectations for zero growth, the country’s biggest auto industry association


Daily iron ore price update (more, longer)

by Chris Becker The Chinese steel industry is still reeling from its call for inquiry into high iron ore prices, with Dalian and Singapore futures moving higher yesterday as spot prices remain elevated. Forecasts are also being upgraded, happy news for Josh Frydenberg – albeit temporary – with the Jefferies Group revising their own ebullient


Daily iron ore price update (Baltic up)

by Chris Becker The iron ore price surged again yesterday, with spot prices up nearly 4% while futures gravitating around the new S&P price forecasts stemming from the Vale supply shortfall.   S&P revised its price assumptions to $90 a tonne for the remainder of 2019 from $75, $80 in 2020 from $70, and $70


Daily iron ore price update (stocks lift)

by Chris Becker The iron ore complex lifted in trade on Monday after falling sharply on Friday on the back of the investigation into “market stability” by the top steel companies in China. Spot rose while futures were mixed:   Interestingly, iron ore stocks rose from their low levels previously, according to Steelhome:  Iron ore stocked


Daily iron ore price update (bust)

Spot prices crashed. Paper too. Steel is weakening again. The culprit was easy to find, via Reuters: Executives from eight steel firms representing 30% of China’s steel output, including China Baowu Group, HBIS Group, Jiangsu Shagang Group and Ansteel Group, gathered at the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) on June 27 in Beijing, according


Daily iron ore price update (pop)

Spot went pop. Paper too though there was more buying overnight. Steel is caput. We’ve overcooked it here and it is going to come undone, either now or soon. Supply is returning steadily and demand is not great. The charts: Clyde Russell does an about turn: Shipments from the two major exporters, Australia and Brazil,


Brazilian iron ore slowly rebounds

Via Reuters: Major supplier Brazil exported 29.40 million tonnes of iron ore in June, compared with 29.83 million tonnes in May and 35.29 million tonnes a year earlier, government data released on Monday showed. The chart: There is slow improvement here year on year: March -7.77mt April -7.54mt May -9.15mt June -5.91mt Once Brucutu is


Daily iron ore price update (irrational)

Spot prices firmed but ignored the fireworks in paper markets. Steel is still going nowhere, really. CISA output for early June jumped to all-time records. The charts: Reuters sums up the irrationality for me today: “While the Brucutu restart will help boost supply, shipping the additional volumes from Brazil to China could take about 45


Daily iron ore price update (toppy)

Spot fell. Paper too. Steel is still being supported by Tangshan output curbs.  CISA steel output pulled back in late May. The charts: The last chart is more marginal evidence that steel mills have hit some kind of over-production tipping point. The pullback was coming via margins anyway but enforcement by regulators achieves the same


Is iron ore signal or bubble?

The FT has an interesting debate on it: The price of iron ore has surged 60 per cent to above $115 a tonne so far this year, according to S&P Global Platts…But it also runs the risk of attracting fresh supply and bringing this year’s rally to an abrupt end. “The market is telling us


Daily iron ore price update (steel save)

Iron spot prices eased back. Paper fell harder. Steel jumped higher. Reuters explains: China’s top steel city of Tangshan has imposed a new set of output restrictions on its iron and steel firms because of persistently high industrial gas pollution levels, the local government-backed Tangshan Labour Daily reported on Monday. Two units of steel giant


Vale mulls S11D expansion

Via BNAmericas: Brazil’s supreme court of justice has authorized local miner Valeto resume operations at its largest iron ore asset in Minas Gerais state, the 30Mt/y Brucutu complex. In a release on Wednesday, Vale said that the decision will allow the full resumption of wet processing operations at Brucutu within 72 hours, thus increasing the average