The commodities outlook of the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, the Australian government's official forecaster, is not nearly as upbeat as many producers' own predictions.
In its latest quarterly overview BREE forecasts that in 2013, the average contract price for FOB Australia iron ore is set to decrease 20% to US$101 a tonne down from an expected average of $126 a tonne this year. The bureau's research suggest iron ore would only start to recover in the second half of next year as Chinese economic stimulus programs spur new construction.
The other key component in steelmaking, coking coal, is expected to average around $211 a tonne this year, but will pull back 14% to $183 a tonne during 2013 as new supply from Australia, Canada and Mongolia hit the market. In September metallurgical coal prices gained 7%, but that was due to rain and strikes, not a fundamental improvement.
The seaborne world trade of iron ore is forecast to increase slightly to 1.16 billion tonnes in 2013 with China accounting for 58% of all imports.
BREE also forecasts declines in 2013 in the price of copper (4%), thermal coal (11%), gold (4%), nickel (13%) and zinc (4%). The winner among the metals is lead. It is expected to sell for 3% more next year.
Click here to download the report.