The chartering of bulk carriers for delivery from Brazil to China of iron-ore bought on the spot market hit a record level this month.
The chartering of bulk carriers for delivery from Brazil to China of iron-ore bought on the spot market hit a record level this month. The number of ships involved is 31. This is because the Chinese are substituting Brazilian iron-ore for Australian, as a result of Australia"s suspension of spot sales to China. The decline in freight costs also makes sourcing spot iron-ore from Brazil more attractive.
China takes more than 50% of globally traded iron-ore and its rising demand has driven the spot price to its highest levels in eight months. Indian iron-ore-miners are also benefiting from this strong Chinese demand. Ores from India with an iron content of 63% to 63,5%, for delivery in August, were quoted at prices of $91/t to $93/t last week, up from $87/t to $89/t a fortnight ago.
Spot prices for benchmark 62% iron content ores from all international sources delivered to China, according to the Steel Index, reached $84,4/t early last week ? an increase of nearly $3/t in a week ? while the Metal Bulletin reported a price for this quality ore of $85,8/t for the same date. By the end of last week, the spot price was close to $100/t. Indeed, spot prices have risen by more than 60% in three months.
Market watchers believe that the spot prices will remain above contract prices for this year, but spot price increases could be constrained by the possibility of high- cost Chinese mines being reopened and by short-term excessive Chinese buying of the metal, leading to pauses in buying later in the year. Brazil has been China"s number two supplier of the metal, after Australia. But during the first three weeks of this month, there were only 12 bookings for ships to carry Australian iron-ore to China, compared with a monthly average of 40 during the second quarter, and in sharp contrast to the record figure of 55 in March.