Iron ore prices for December 12, 2018 Spot stable. Paper too. Steel rebounded. Nothing burger. Westpac has some good material on next year: Three factors were behind the recovery in iron ore prices in 2018: 1) the restructuring of the Chinese steel industry and resulting lift in steel prices; 2) declining Chinese ore production due
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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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Iron ore price charts for December 11, 2018: Spot is treading water. Paper jumped convulsively when it learned that Chinese credit is crashing. Coking coal contracts rolled forward. Steel is weak and getting weaker. Iron ore these days rises long before any actual stimulus meaning that strength is greeted with price rises and weakness with
Via Argues: Brazil’s Samarco mine is likely to restart in early 2020, bringing a major source of high-grade iron ore back into the market, mining company Vale’s chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said today. “The worst part seems to be behind us,” Schvartsman said of the process to bring Samarco back on line after a fatal
Iron ore prices for November 30, 2019: Spot down. Paper up. Steel struggling. Steel PMI trashed. Let’s look more closely at the latter: As a single industry PMI, the steel survey is much more volatile than any sector wide version. Nonetheless, it is a good guide to pivot points and trend changes. The key number
Iron ore prices for November 27, 2018: Spot stabilised. Paper is still soft. Steel rebounded. Whether it is already over is in the lap of the gods, via Reuters: China’s steel production hit a record 82.55 million tonnes in October, but steel prices and margins have since shrunk as China dialed back on winter output
Iron ore prices for November 23, 2018: Spot routed. Paper following. Steel smashed. Yet rebar inventories are still down. It does not make complete sense. It looks like steel mills are overproducing and the steel price is sinking as a result. They are responding by destocking raw materials. All normal for this time of year.
Iron ore prices for November 21, 2018: Spot flat. Paper roared. Steel fell again as CISA early November output remains very high. This is killing mills’ margins. It should see a destock of raw materials and falling prices but iron ore now trades as the perfect counter to any Cold War 2.0 news on hopes of
Iron ore prices for November 16, 2018: Spot up. Paper down. Steel flat. Rebar stocks are crashing as Winter output shutdowns get underway. We should have already seen price draw downs by now. Whether they’ll still happen I have no idea. The next relatively certain period of material price action will be February when prices
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
Via Westpac: Chinese steel, iron ore and coal Chinese environmental policies have boosted the demand for higher grades of iron ore but in the long run they may drive a structural shift in demand. Chinese mills are increasingly using scrap steel as its supply grows with more buildings being torn down, more cars crushed and
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