Iron ore prices have peaked, will lose steam — report

Iron ore operation. Photo by Minerals Council of Australia.

Iron ore prices have peaked and will head lower from spot levels over the rest of the year as supply issues ease and Chinese demand temporarily softens due to current yuan strength, Fitch Solutions’ latest commodity price forecast finds.

While iron ore prices will see a correction in the coming months, Fitch analysts do not expect a strong collapse. Economic stimulus provided by the Chinese government to stabilise growth has and will keep steel production strong in 2019 and 2020, especially with the re-escalation of the trade war with the US, boosting demand for iron ore, the report maintains.

For the next three to six months, Fitch analysts have raised their iron ore price forecast for 2019 from $80/tonne to $90/tonne as supply disruptions coupled with strong demand resulted in a price rally in Q2 2019 that brought the year-to-date average higher.

Iron ore prices started the year with a rally as the collapse of a tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine in Brazil in January and the following legal aftermath threatening Vale’s supply sent prices skyrocketing.

Extreme weather in Australia led to the closure of important ports following which BHP and Rio Tinto revised their production guidance downwards, catalysing further price rallies.

Fitch believes that the iron ore price rally has reached its pinnacle and prices will now embark on a correction as exports from supplying countries revive and a weakening yuan dampens Chinese demand.

In 2020, Fitch expects prices to hold up as Chinese demand remains strong as a result of infrastructure project constructions rolling on. Analysts believe prices will average $80/tonne, lower than 2019, as they will start from a lower base.

Beyond 2020, Fitch expects prices to drop from an average of $80/tonne to $57/tonne by 2023.

Read the full report here.

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