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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Brazilian lawmakers step up virus pressure on Vale

Via Reuters: The office that enforces labor laws in Brazil’s Para state has stepped up an investigation into potential shortcomings in mining giant Vale’s efforts to protect workers from the coronavirus, authorities said on Wednesday. The federal labor prosecutor’s office in Para has an internal working group in place known as the GEAF to monitor


UBS: Iron ore all about Brazil

Yep. Via UBS: Iron ore appears well-supported by current tightness The iron ore price (62% CFR China) has averaged US$89/t YTD with spot now over US$100/t and above our CY 20e forecast of US$86/t. We are comfortable with our forecast based on 1) a strong recovery in Vale iron ore production which will require a


Daily iron ore price update (Brazil warns)

Iron ore prices for May 21, 2020: Everything flew late as this: After Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA cut its 2020 production outlook to 310 million-330 million tonnes, from 340 million-355 million tonnes previously, “more downgrades may be on the way as COVID-19 infections accelerate in Brazil’s key mining provinces”, said Morgans Financial Ltd


Bravo! China changes iron ore import rules

Via the AFR comes a huge laugh out loud: China has changed its inspection procedures for iron imports under new rules that analysts say could be used to block Australia’s most important export, as trade tensions between the two countries escalate. China’s Customs authorities said in a notice the new supervising rules, which take effect


Daily iron ore price update (flame out)

Iron ore prices for May 20, 2020: The latest high-frequency data from Capital Economics is not very good: If it were not for Brazilian risks these numbers would suggest that iron ore should be falling. Though there this: Local government debt issuance is mad as the infrastructure pipeline refills. Still, the recovery remains fitful and


CS: Stay long iron ore

Via the excellent Damien Boey at Credit Suisse: “Hard” indicators in China improving. Official headline data for China were mixed in April. Industrial production surprised to the upside, while retail sales and fixed asset investment surprised to the downside. But there was general improvement in the “hard” indicators we track for the sake of the Australian commodities outlook. Year-ended growth in electricity


Daily iron ore price update (strong)

Iron ore prices for May 13, 2020: I see this latest strong price action as a combination of restocking, exaggerated by Brazil worries, and strong seasonality. The last will reverse into June but the former will last as long as the virus threatens supply. Capital Economics high-frequency indexes look better today too: The major pulse


Inside the coal crash

From Westpac’s excellent Justin Smirk: Coal prices tumbled in April, iron ore was more stable while base metals firmed a little Coal prices have been falling rapidly with the latest spot Qld met coal prices down –39% in the last three months and Newcastle thermal down –21%. As a result we have lowered our near,


Can Australia be a green steel superpower?

So says Grattan: Australia has an historic opportunity to create a multi-billion-dollar, export-focused manufacturing sector based on globally competitive renewable energy. Using Australia’s plentiful wind and solar resources to make energy-intensive ‘green’ commodities could create tens of thousands of jobs in regions that currently employ tens of thousands of coal miners and other ‘carbon workers’


Daily iron ore price update (Brazill)

Iron ore prices for May 10, 2020: Spot jumped, I suspect over two days. Steel output is now roughly tracking last year’s output despite the vast inventory overhang. The Brazil risk is rising: Concerns about Brazilian iron ore supply resurfaced among market participants this past week due to expectations that exports of the product would