The price of [iron ore] is trading at the lowest levels since early May 2009. So far in 2015 the price has fallen 12.5% following a year in which the commodity nearly halved in value [to $63/tonne]
... more than softening demand, increased supply has been blamed on the fall in the price. Global production of iron ore rose by an annual average of over 6% from 2010 to 2014 despite the fall in prices and is set to expand even further this year.
The growth in output came mainly from the big three producers – Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton – which even at today's price enjoy fat margins thanks to cost of production of only around $25 a tonne.
Goldman Sachs released its estimates for iron ore on Friday. The investment bank cut its outlook for iron ore for this year to $66 a tonne this year, down substantially from an earlier estimate of $80: "Significant overinvestment to date will ensure that the market is well supplied, while demand from the Chinese steel sector is maturing. A painful war of attrition awaits."
So the Big Three are doing pretty much exactly the same as the Saudis with oil. Drive up prices and lull lots of would be competitors into investing in higher cost production, then boost output, watch prices halve and drive them all out of business again.
Sunday, 1 March 2015
My latest blogpost: Iron ore: Another classic example of cartel behaviourTweet this! Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 13:00