Archive | Iron Ore

Iron Ore From Paradise Wins No Takers as China Upends Market – by Swansy Afonso (Bloomberg News – December 8, 2017)

A China-led flight to quality in the global iron ore market is punishing producers of the lower-grade material, with miners in India facing an increasing battle to find buyers for their cargoes as demand dwindles.

In Goa, exporters are struggling to sell even a quarter of what they shipped last year, according to Glenn Kalavampara, secretary at the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association. “There’s absolutely no market,” he said by phone from Panaji, capital of the western state that’s better known for its sparkling beach resorts. “The preference for higher-grade ore is a major concern.” he said.

While Indian exports account for just a fraction of the global seaborne market of about 1.4 billion tons that’s dominated by Vale SA, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd., the plight of the low-grade shippers highlights the new dynamic. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto puts its faith in driverless trucks, trains and drilling rigs (The Economist – December 7, 2017)

FOR millennia, man has broken rocks. Whether with pickaxe or dynamite, their own or animal muscle, in a digger or a diesel truck, thick-necked miners have been at the centre of an industry that supplies the raw materials for almost all industrial activity.

Making mining more profitable has long involved squeezing out more tonnes of metal per ounce of brawn. Now robots, not man, are settling themselves into the driving seat.

Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining firms, is leading that transformation in its vast iron-ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is putting its faith in driverless trucks and unmanned drilling rigs and trains, overseeing them from the office equivalent of armchairs about 1,000km (625 miles) south, in Perth. Continue Reading →

Biggest Iron Ore Miner Threatens to Flood Market If Prices Surge – by R.T. Watson and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – December 7, 2017)

Vale SA has a somber message for anyone betting on iron ore prices returning to the heady days of 2011.

The world’s biggest producer of the steel-making ingredient is prepared to unleash as much as 50 million metric tons of spare capacity to balance the market if prices get too high, Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman said.

High prices would lure inefficient producers back into the market and risk a repeat of past excesses that led to $1 trillion in value destruction, he said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television from the New York Stock Exchange, where Vale held its annual investor day. Continue Reading →

Iron ore tops $US72 a tonne, defying naysayers yet again – by Timothy Moore (Australian Financial Review – December 5, 2017)

Iron ore rallied solidly into the $US70 a tonne range as Chinese steel futures surged, with local mills seen continuing to produce at high rates to take advantage of strong profit margins.

The spot price of iron ore rose $US2.57, or 3.7 per cent, to $US72.68 a tonne on Monday, according to Metal Bulletin – its highest since mid September. The steelmaking raw material – which advanced 2.9 per cent on Friday – has now risen more than 20 per cent from late October. Iron ore continues to defy forecasts that it will reverse into the $US50 range as global supply slowly rises and China’s economy gradually slows.

“We think that the latest gains in the iron ore price are a knee-jerk reaction to soaring steel prices, rather than a reflection of iron ore’s fundamentals,” said Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto aims for “intelligent” Australian iron ore mine – by James Regans (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2017)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rio Tinto next year will seek board approval to develop an “intelligent” iron ore mine at a cost of $2.2 billion, fully incorporating technologies such as robotics and driverless trains and trucks on a single site, the company’s head of iron ore said on Monday.

A feasibility study was underway to demonstrate the economics behind developing the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara region of the state of Western Australia, said Chief Executive, Iron Ore Chris Salisbury.

Rio Tinto extracts more than 300 million tonnes of ore annually in Australia, making it the world’s second-biggest iron ore miner after Brazilian giant Vale. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Enters Bull Market as China’s Curbs Supercharge Steel – by Jake Lloyd-Smith and Ranjeetha Pakiam (Bloomberg News – December 3, 2017)

Iron ore has rallied back into a bull market. Prices are surging as China’s crackdown on steel output this winter runs down inventories, helping mills’ profitability and stoking demand for high-grade ore even as investors discount signs of ample supply.

Spot ore with 62 percent iron content jumped 3.7 percent to $72.68 a metric ton, the highest since Sept. 14, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. That’s more than 20 percent up from the low hit in late October, meeting the common bull-market definition. Earlier, on Monday, futures in Asia rallied, with the SGX AsiaClear prices rising 2.9 percent to $71.29 a ton.

Iron ore’s gains — which will aid miners including Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA — are buttressed by China’s unprecedented push to rein in steel output this winter to cut pollution. Continue Reading →

IRON MINING ASSOCIATION OF MINNESOTA NEWS RELEASE: Iron mining contributed $96 million to region in 2017 (November 21, 2017)

More than $96 million from iron mining taxes went back into the communities in 2017, according to the Department of Revenue’s 2017 Mining Tax Guide which was released yesterday.

These tax dollars were distributed in 2017 based on the 2016 production year. The report shows Minnesota’s iron mines produced more than 29 million tons of ore in 2016 – the lowest production since 2011.

“This just goes to show what a huge impact Minnesota’s iron mining industry has on our region,” said Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) President Kelsey Johnson, noting that global pressures aided in the temporary idling of more than half of the iron mining facilities in Minnesota in 2016. Today, all the pellet producing facilities are running once again and operating at full capacity. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-For China, it’s currently iron ore quality not quantity – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 28, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 28 (Australia) – It would seem to defy logic that iron ore prices have continued to rise in recent weeks even as China steps up the idling of steel production as part of efforts to limit air pollution over winter.

While there is a historic correlation between iron ore and steel prices in China, the world’s largest importer of the former and producer of the latter, it would have been reasonable to expect them to have diverged in recent weeks, and in the coming months.

Steel prices should outperform iron ore, given it’s steel output that is being restricted, leading to a tightening of the supply side of the market. However, iron ore suffers from no such supply-side scarcity, rather just the opposite, with abundant cargoes available from major exporters Australia, Brazil and South Africa. Continue Reading →

Iron ore extends rally, fresh bull market beckons – by Timothy Moore (Australian Financial Review – November 24, 2017)

The spot price of iron ore appears headed toward a bull market on optimism about Chinese demand for higher grades of the steelmaking material.

So far this month, ore with 62 per cent iron content quoted by Metal Bulletin has risen 15.7 per cent, including a 3.9 per cent leap to $US67.69 a tonne on Thursday. It surged 4.3 per cent on Wednesday. The latest price swing is in keeping with a volatile year.

The latest rally appears to be underpinned in part by China’s push to curb pollution from now through March by closing less efficient steel mills in particular those in the northern part of the country. One result is that mills are using more higher grade, less polluting imported iron ore to maintain output. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Vale says Brazil iron royalty hike could hurt high-cost mines (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2017)

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Vale SA , the world’s largest iron ore producer, said on Thursday that a hike in the country’s royalty rates for the mineral could compromise its ability to maintain high-cost mines and would hurt its ability to compete.

Congress passed the higher royalties in votes on Wednesday with the bill now moving to President Michel Temer for signature. Vale said in a statement that it hoped Temer would veto some of the changes to the proposal made by Congress.

“Congress has made profound changes to the original text, resulting in a model that affects our competitiveness, especially at a time of depressed prices, as well as compromises the maintenance and operation of high-cost mines,” Vale said in a statement. Continue Reading →

Anglo to halt Minas Rio in Brazil if expansion licence delayed further – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – November 20, 2017)

Anglo American (LON:AAL) will have to shut its massive Minas Rio in Brazil next year if authorities for the state of Minas Gerais, where the iron ore operation is located, further delay a licence needed to kick off a final and key expansion.

The miner, which has already been granted permission for a second phase at Minas Rio, has been trying for months to secure the environmental license for the mine’s third and last expansion, but has faced several roadblocks along the way.

Chief executive of Anglo American Brazil, Ruben Fernandes, told local paper Hojeemdia (in Portuguese) the permit was first expected in July this year, but ongoing requests from the state’s public prosecutor and the rescheduling of necessary public hearings have pushed the deadline to December. Continue Reading →

Bloom Lake mine, dumped by Cliffs, to reopen by March – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – November 18, 2017)

The Bloom Lake iron ore mine in northern Quebec, shut down and abandoned by Cleveland-Cliffs in 2014, will be back up and running by March, the mine’s new owner says.

Quebec Iron Ore Inc., a subsidiary of Champion Iron Ltd., said Wednesday that it already has 250 employees on site and will have 450 workers by Christmas at the facility near Fermont, Quebec, near the border with Labrador.

The new company raised $350 million in financing, including about $51 million from the Quebec government, a $100 million loan from a government pension fund and another $80 million loan from a private lender. Continue Reading →

How Rio Tinto chief Jean-Sébastien Jacques learnt the power of social media – by Pilita Clark (Australian Financial Review – November 13, 2017)

Of all the chief executives at a FTSE 100 company, the one I am coming to know best is Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the 46-year-old Frenchman appointed to run the Rio Tinto mining group last year.

Mr Jacques has lived in London for more than a decade and was “insanely happy” when he became a British citizen in 2013. He loves rugby. He travels constantly. His wife nicks his socks and he lives around the corner from a French bakery selling bread as good as any you can get in Paris.

I learnt all this from French Yummy Mummy, a blog by a gabby London-based Parisian engineer named Muriel Demarcus who is, I recently discovered, also Mr Jacques’ wife. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Caution needed over weakness in China’s imports of iron ore, coal – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 9, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 9 (Reuters) – If the sharp drop in China’s iron ore imports in October looks suspicious, it should be viewed in the light of the record high the previous month and a holiday week.

Preliminary commodity import figures released on Wednesday by China’s General Administration of Customs showed iron ore imports for October slumping to 79.5 million tonnes, down a massive 22.7 percent from September’s all-time high of 102.8 million.

October’s imports were the weakest since February 2016, sparking market concern that China’s cuts to steel output over the winter in order to lower pollution were biting far harder, and faster, than initially anticipated. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China’s iron ore appetite stays voracious even as steel output cut by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 7 (Reuters) – There is no sign as yet of a slowdown in China’s imports of iron ore, despite an increase in the amount of steel-making capacity being idled as part of efforts to combat air pollution during winter.

It would seem logical that if steel mills are forced to cut production in order to lower emissions, demand for iron ore in the world’s top importer would also slow to reflect the reduced steel output.

While this still may occur in coming months, it certainly didn’t happen in October, with vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts pointing to another bumper month. Continue Reading →