Global iron ore market well supplied, growth in production ahead — reports

Image by Vale

The global iron ore market will remain well supplied up until 2027, thanks to expanding output in Brazil and India, and to a slowdown in steel production in China, forecasts one Fitch Solutions Global Iron Ore Supply and Demand Outlook report, published this week.

And in another report on the Iron Ore Mining Outlook, Fitch predicts global iron ore production will grow due to mine expansions in Brazil and increasing output from India, while output growth in China will decline on the back of falling ore grades and high cost of production. Miners in China, operating at the higher end of the iron ore cost curve, may be forced to cut output due to falling ore grades.

According to the report, global iron ore production is expected to grow modestly from 3.3 billion tonnes in 2018 to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2027, representing an average annual growth of 0.5% during 2018-2027— a significant drop from an average growth of 5% during 2008-2017.

Supply growth is expected to be primarily driven by India and by Brazil, where the world’s top iron ore miner, Vale, is set to expand output with its new mine.

In Q3 2018, Vale broke a new sales record for iron ore and pellets. Vale surpassed the production barrier of 100 million tonnes of iron ore fines in a quarter, reaching a production record of 104 million tonnes in Q3 2018 compared to 96 million tonnes in Q2 2018 and achieving a production rate of 4 billion tonnes per year.

Fitch reports that India’s iron ore output growth will be supported by the removal of export taxes in the Union Budget for low-grade ores and the country’s Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) (MMDR) Act, which will streamline licensing and reopen closed mines.

As a result, Fitch forecasts India’s iron ore output to grow from 209 million tonnes in 2018 to 221 million in 2027, representing an average annual growth of 1.6% during 2018-2027, higher than the 0.4% year over year growth seen over 2009-2017 following mining bans in Goa, Odisha and Karnatak, the largest iron-ore producing states.

In Australia, iron ore production is forecasted to decline from 2018-2027 by 0.4%. In 2017, Australia exported 829 million tonnes of iron ore, maintaining its place as the largest global exporter, but representing a 2.8% year over year decline, due to weaker demand from Japan and South Korea. Fitch forecasts that Rio Tinto will remain the outperformer in the Australian market.

Read the full reports here.