Anglo triples iron ore exports to India

Many domestic mines are still idled

India’s steel producers imported more than 15 million tonnes the the fiscal year to end March, a new record high.

The main beneficiary was Anglo American, the world’s number five iron ore producer with mines in South Africa and Brazil, which tripled its exports to the subcontinent over the past year.

David Trotter, Anglo American’s global head of iron ore sales, told a conference in Vienna that India now represent 15% of the company’s portfolio or about six million tonnes a year.

Trotter expects “India to account for 20 percent of Anglo American’s iron ore sales over the next two to three years, a significant but not equally stellar rate of sales growth,” according to Reuters.

India’s imports were a mere 1.2 million tonne in 2013 and 3.1 million tonnes last year.

While these numbers are negligible compared to Chinese imports which grew to a record in 2014 above 900 million tonnes and have continued to expand in 2015, only five years ago Indian exported roughly 120 million tonnes per year – mostly to China.

The collapse in exports came amid a government crackdown commencing in 2010 to root out corruption, environmental degradation and transform an industry thoroughly in need of modernization. Some of the shuttered mines in Odisha, Goa and Karnataka are now slowly coming back on stream.

India’s steel ministry announced in December that state owned mining company National Mineral Development Corp will raise its iron ore output to over 75 million tonnes per annum by the 2018-2019 financial year. The target for 2020-2021 is more than 100 million tonnes per year.

That’s up from only 30 million in its current fiscal year. The production surge is required to push the India’s steel production rate to a long term target of 300 million tonnes by 2025, compared to 83 million tonnes today.

That would require production of 500 million tonnes of iron ore annually.

The benchmark Chinese import price of iron ore was last set at $63 a tonne, down from $71 a tonne at the start of 2015.

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