Brazil’s iron ore industry loses ground in the global market

Brazil's share in the global iron ore market dropped 12.5% last year, totalizing a 7.5% decrease since 2000 and returning to mid-1970s levels, shows GlobalData's latest market research.

Only in March the South American nation’s iron ore export volume amounted to 22.6 million tonnes, down 18% from the same month last year, according to preliminary information released by the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.

Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world's largest iron ore miner and No. 3 mining company by market capitalization, has contributed to country’s iron ore-related fall down.

The Rio de Janeiro-based miner posted last week a decline in iron ore production of 3.5% to 67.54 million metric tons for the first quarter of 2013. It also reduced its production of iron-ore pellets by 12% in the first quarter to 11.67 million tons.

The country’s situation is unlikely to get better anytime soon, experts believe, based on recent World Steel Association report. The steelmakers' group representing over 170 producers expects excess in supply due to 250 million metric tons of new iron ore capacity due on stream over the next few years.

This new volume in iron ore, coming into production at a time of slow growth in global steel markets, could accentuate current iron ore price volatility, the group said.

But at the same time major producers of the steel making material invest in mines designed to meet Chinese demand, and substitute some older sites where ore qualities have declined, Beijing’s demand for iron ore is also growing more slowly.

VAle has already shut down several plants to accommodate weaker global demand.