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 (train wreck)

Spot was down sharply. Paper rallied overnight on BHP’s train wreck. Steel looks ready break down. Port Hedland shipments remain weak as miners find all manner of excuses to reduce volumes. They haven’t grown in 18 months. BHP has declared force majeur: BHP does not believe its stockpiles of iron ore at Port Hedland, in


Daily iron ore price update (peak)

Iron ore prices for November 6, 2018: Spot flat. Paper down. Steel down. Port stocks down to 141.65mt. We appear to be entering the Q4 correction now, delayed by stimulus hopes. They appear to be a little ahead of the curve given the PMIs: Infrastructure is being rolled out to offset industrial production. But only


Daily iron ore price update (ghost train)

Iron ore prices for November 5, 2018: Spot jumped. Paper too. Because this: A train loaded with iron ore and operated by BHP ran away without a driver for 57 miles (92km) before being forcibly derailed, the company and Australian authorities have said. On Monday, the world’s biggest miner suspended all Western Australian iron ore rail operations while


As BHP hoses cash to foreigners, do recall it’s your kid’s dough

UBS wraps it up nicely for BHP: BHP has today announced that it will return the full US$10.4bn net proceeds from shale to shareholders almost immediately through a combination of an off-market buyback in Nov/Dec 18 (US$5.2bn) and a special dividend of US$5.2bn (~US$1.01ps) payable in January 2019. Further returns expected at the half year


Daily iron ore price update (crunchtime)

Iron ore price for November 1, 2018: Spot down again. Paper and steel more. The Steel PMI actually held up well as building accelerates. There’s more of that ahead. We’re already seeing a big new infrastructure push.  Property is an open question. They say it will reined but so far it’s the opposite. The downdraft


Daily iron ore price (MOAR stimulus)

Iron ore price for October 31, 2018: Spot and paper flat. Steel down. CISA output for mid-October has begun the seasonal draw down. In news, it MOAR: “The leadership is paying great attention to the problems, and will be more preemptive and take action in a timely manner,” according to the statement Wednesday. The Politburo


China’s scraptastrophe builds

Bloomie has a little coverage the Chinese steel scraptastrophe today: With tighter emission limits, improved furnace technology and output curbs, mills are using more scrap than ever before, according to Goh Kian Guan, chief investment officer at recycler Chiho Environmental Group Ltd. If a steelmaker is causing too much pollution, “there’ll be a chance they


Daily iron ore price update (boomchakalaka)

Iron ore prices for October 26, 2018: Spot up. Paper up more. Steel up. There’s no downside here. Steel inventories are drawing despite massive output. Moderate stimulus is underway and it’s going to turn aggressive as tariffs weigh on industrial output. Xi Jinping has promised MOAR. Coking coal supply is squeezed. It’s boom chakalaka!


Daily iron ore price update (buy)

Iron ore prices for October 25, 2018: All prices were roughly stable except coking coal futures which are still pointing to heaven. CISA output for early October remains insane. The entire ferrous complex is oblivious to wider ructions as coking coal is squeezed and China pours in stimulus. We bought more major iron ore miners


Daily iron ore price update (whatever it takes)

Iron ore prices for October 22, 2018: Spot rocket. Steel rocket. And why not. Yesterday Xi Jinping issued his “whatever it takes” moment via Bloomie: President Xi Jinping vowed “unwavering” support for non-state firms over the weekend, the country’s stock exchanges committed to help manage share-pledge risks, and the government released a plan to cut personal


Daily iron ore price update (ease)

Iron ore price for October 19, 2018: Spot down. Paper up. Steel down. At this stage prices are so high that it’s difficult to see them going much higher. That said, I can’t get very bearish while coking coal supply is constrained despite demand that is going to weaken. Perhaps a trading range up here


Daily iron ore price update (all good)

Iron ore prices for October 12, 2018: Spot was up. Paper and steel firm. Rebar inventories are absolutely fine, still up one million tonnes on last year: As production remains mad, via CISA for late September output at 1.98mt: Friday’s trade data was also very much in control with steel exports leveling out around 6mt.


Daily iron ore price update (Golden Week)

Iron ore prices for September 28, 2018: Markets are closed this week in China but steel is likely to see more pressure next week: China’s environment ministry issued a stern warning on Saturday to companies across heavy industry not to flout the nation’s tough emission rules — a move seen as quashing speculation that the