Brazil Iron Ore Exports Still In Recovery

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Brazilian iron ore exports are still lagging behind 2018’s levels as the big exporter and miner, Vale struggles to recover from the January 25 mine dam wall collapse, according to export data for October.

At the same time Vale is bringing more capacity back on line, while global prices fell 3%, more than reversing the near 2% rise the week before.

The Metal Bulletin’s Fastmarkets index for 62% Fe iron ore fines delivered to northern China dipped 41 cents to $US85.56 a tonne. That was $US2.42 or 3% a tonne lower than the previous Friday’s close of $US87.98 a tonne

Figures released on Friday showed Brazil’s iron ore export volumes and revenues dropped year-on-year in October due to the continuing supply disruptions dating back to the January disaster.

Export volumes of iron ore fell 16.1% to 31.20 million tonnes in October, down by 16.1% from 37.19 million tonnes a year earlier. But they were up 15% from September as Vale brings more capacity back on line.

Prices also slipped, to $US62.90 a tonne from $US68 the month before for Brazilian exports, although they were still up substantially from the year-ago price of $US55.70, according to the Brazilian resources department.

Meanwhile, Vale said it will resume operations at its Alegria mine through dry stacking (not using water and wet tailings dams) to produce 1 million tonnes of iron ore over the rest of 2019.

The restart was authorised by Brazil’s national mining agency, ANM, which reverted a March decision that had halted the unit, the company said on Friday.

The output will be limited to 1 million tonnes of iron ore until year-end for safety reasons, it added.

“For the following years, production will gradually return, observing additionally the margin over volume strategy [of the company],” it said. “[Vale] expects sales to be between the lower [end] and the midpoint of the range [in 2019].” The decision from ANM allows Vale to resume 8 million tonnes of output.

Vale it maintained its full-year sales volumes guidance of 307-332 million tonnes. The final figure is expected to be at the bottom of the range after it cut 2019 production by 1.2 million tonnes the week before when it stopped work on revamping a tailings dam.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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