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 (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


Daily iron ore price update (Vale panic)

Iron ore prices for February 1st, 2019: Spot rose moderately while paper went limit up. Steel is still firming. Reuters quotes an hysterical ANZ: “While the company is proposing to increase production elsewhere, we estimate a net total loss of around 13 mt (million tonnes) in 2019,” ANZ commodity strategists Daniel Hynes and Soni Kumari


Chinese steel demand booming or breaking?

Yesterday we saw a strong rebound in the China steel PMI via MySteel: China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the steel industry returned to the expansion zone, scoring 51.5 after a strong month-on-month growth of 5.9 basis points or a recovery for the second month after struggling in the contraction range over November-December 2018, amid


Daily iron ore price update (ore really)

by Chris Becker We’re still seeing jumps in prices across the iron ore complex as reaction to Vale’s failed mining operations continues to spread: Meanwhile locally, Fortescue are continuning to ramp up production, with a 5% lift in its second quarter shipments, particularly the mid-grade ore. More from AFR: The world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer


Daily iron ore price update (Vale spike)

by Chris Becker Huge spikes in spot and future iron ore prices in reaction to the Vale mine disaster yesterday: Is iron ore on track for the elusive $100 per tonne level again? Many think so, and it may not need the usual Chinese stimulus to do so. From AFR: “While there is uncertainty around


Vale to pull 40mt of iron ore

Via the AFR: The fallout from the Brazilian tailings dam disaster took a stunning turn on Wednesday, with the owner of the dam, Vale, signalling it will pull as much as 40 million tonnes out of the market as it races to decommission 19 similar dams. The death toll from the tragedy stands at 84,


Daily iron ore price update (hysteria pricing)

by Chris Becker Spot iron ore prices shot higher yesterday, making new highs as the fallout from Vale’s mine disaster continued to rattle markets. Texture from Reuters: China’s iron ore futures extended gains on Tuesday amid expectations of slower production by top producer Vale SA, but steel prices fell on caution ahead of the U.S.-China


Daily iron ore price update (vale Vale)

by Chris Becker The iron ore complex jumped yesterday on the news that one of Vale’s Brazilian tailing dams collapsed, killing nearly 60 people and halting production at the Corrego do Feijao mine site. Dalian futures leapt 6% on the news, even though the production losses by Vale are not expected to be large to


Daily iron ore price update (no ships for Oz)

by Chris Becker Spot and future prices lifted for iron ore yesterday, while rebar had the biggest gains as volume starts to simmer down leading into the Chinese new year: Meanwhile, BHP and Bluescope are blaming “high labour costs” in their bid to stop using Australian cargo ships to transport iron ore. More from AFR:


Daily iron ore price update (more supply)

by Chris Becker Spot prices settled largely unchanged in the iron ore complex yesterday with 12 month futures pulling shorter as glut concerns mounted. Here are the latest prices and charts: Is there stimulus coming? Because there’s already a supply glut before the Chinese New Year holiday – more from Reuters: “There’s a big probability


Daily iron ore price update (restocking slowly)

by Chris Becker Spot iron ore prices were all over the place yesterday with lower grade fines lifting while higher quality dropped and the Tianjin spot price was broadly steady. Steel prices are going nowhere despite restocking efforts ahead of the Chinese NY holiday. Meanwhile, BHP signalled yesterday that it needed a “perfect second half”


Daily iron ore price update (BHP bad)

by Chris Becker Here’s the latest from the iron ore price complex: Futures lept on the Dalian Commodity Exchange and in Singapore for the 6 month and 12 month respectively, while spot iron ore slipped.   Looks like some more utilization as we get into the Chinese New Year. Texture from Reuters: “Our sintering data


Daily iron ore price update (up and away)

by Chris Becker Friday saw a broad lift in spot prices and futures across the iron ore complex, taking into account Rio Tinto’s force majeure following a fire at its Cape Lambert export terminal and speculation that there maybe a resolution to the trade war between China and the US soon. Here are the prices and


Daily iron ore price update (Rio ups production)

by Chris Becker Spot iron ore prices fell slightly yesterday while the short and medium term futures edged higher alongside rebar and coking prices: Meanwhile Rio Tinto is out with a production update. Via AAP: Mining giant Rio Tinto shipped 338.2 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara operations in 2018, in line with


Daily iron ore price update (more upside)

by Chris Becker Here’s the latest price update from the iron ore complex, with spot prices up nearly 1% bringing the current rally close to a bull market response (i.e 20% plus) while Dalian futures also edged but the 12 monthly SGX price retreated: Aussie extractors are getting even better margins as the price keeps climbing


Daily iron ore price update (capacity concerns)

by Chris Becker Here’s the latest from the iron ore complex, where spot prices are steady while futures slipped a little: Capacity concerns in the Middle Kingdom are the focus for 2019, but it’s not moving prices around just yet. More from The Mercury: China’s steel industry will shift its focus in 2019 to optimising