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Bulk Buys: Iron ore prices stay elevated, demand outlook starting to improve for coking coal

17 February 2021


  • Iron ore fines prices traded this week at $US166.90 per tonne, up $US6.40 on a week ago

  • Hard coking coal prices were $US5.25 lower on-week at $US128.30 per tonne at Queensland ports

  • China’s steel reinforcing bar price is steady this week at $US667 per tonne

The immediate outlook for iron ore is still robust with the spot price at $US166 per tonne ($212.75/tonne) as cargo trading slowed to a crawl for China’s Lunar New Year holiday.

“Iron ore prices have been elevated since the Brumadinho tailings dam tragedy in Brazil first disrupted the market in early 2019,” said BHP in an earnings report this week.

The Australian iron ore shipper said its analysis of the seaborne market suggested that for a price correction to happen either Chinese demand or Brazilian supply would have to change “materially”.

“In the second half of the 2020s, China’s demand for iron ore is expected to be lower than today as crude steel production plateaus and the scrap-to-steel ratio rises,” it said.

Seaborne prices for iron ore are at their highest since late 2011, when the market was coming off a record of $US180 per tonne earlier in that year.

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