Iron ore prices going from bad to worse — below $50

Iron ore prices going from bad to worse — below $50

The price of iron ore has dropped to levels that threatens to leave some junior miners unprofitable.

Iron ore prices dropped again Tuesday in the longest run of losses in 10 months, after a rebound in Chinese port stockpiles hurt the outlook for prices as the biggest miners increase production and demand slows.

The benchmark 62% Fe import price including freight and insurance at the Chinese port of Tianjin lost $2.68 to $49.60 a tonne according to data provided by The Metal Bulletin Iron Ore Index.

Prices for the steel making ingredient, which entered a bull market in April, fell for the ninth straight day in the longest losing streak since August 29.

The extended collapse in prices has eroded gains in the second quarter of the year, when iron ore climbed from a decade-low as producers' shipments missed expectations.

A few months of prices above $60 had given small producers valuable breathing room to keep reducing costs and pushing their break even prices as low as they could.

But analysts agree that the ongoing price collapse will take things back into the danger zone.

UBS estimates of break even prices – the point at which miners neither make or lose money – show there is little room to move. The investment bank puts the breakeven of BC Iron at $52 a tonne, Mount Gibson at around $49, and Fortescue Metals Group at $44 a tonne.

Meanwhile Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill, expected to ship its first ore this September, has an assumed break-even price of $41 a tonne.