The iron ore price rose on Tuesday, boosted by disappointing figures by the world’s biggest producers.
Vale churned out 75.7 million tonnes in the second quarter, compared to the 78 million tonnes average estimate among analysts tracked by Bloomberg.
The company maintained its full-year guidance of 315 million to 335 million tonnes and said it achieved an annual output capacity of 330 million tonnes.
“Full-year iron ore production guidance of 315-335 million tonnes is maintained, but hitting even the bottom end of this range would require a strong second half of the year,” Christopher LaFemina, an analyst at Jefferies told the Financial Times.
“Doable, but risk is to the downside.”
BHP said it would start a “major maintenance” campaign over the next three months at Port Hedland, its key iron ore loading facility in Western Australia.
Lower than expected supply growth has helped prop up prices, which at more than $220 a tonne on Tuesday are delivering huge profits for iron ore producers.
Rio Tinto said last week that its shipments fell 2% on the previous quarter and flagged annual exports could come in at the low end of its forecast, partly because of heavier than normal rain.
Iron ore has been in a bull market for more than two years, and it is not about to end soon, say Goldman Sachs analysts.
“It would be wrong to say that the bull market for iron ore, you know, is on the cusp of ending,” said Nicholas Snowdon, Goldman’s head of base metals and bulks research, as CNBC reported.
According to Snowdon, the market will likely only return to a “comfortable position” from 2023 on.
Prices are being supported by strong demand from top steel producer China.
“Even as China shows some signs of decelerating in … steel demand growth rate in the second half of the year and into 2022, the rest of the world and (developed market) steel demand dynamics are incredibly strong,” Snowdon was quoted at the Singapore Iron Ore Forum.
“For now, it looks like a very tight market with a very strong underpin from supply demand, and still robust demand growth rates.”
“The Australian producers have almost maxed out their infrastructure availability, so they can’t expand at any pace,” said Rohan Kendall during a separate panel discussion.
“I think prices over $200 a tonne are unsustainable, but we’re likely to see prices stay around $150 a tonne,” predicted Erik Hedborg, principal analyst at CRU.
(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)