Arrium’s iron ore shipments level in Q1

Iron ore shipments from Australia’s Arrium Mining & Materials were largely flat year-on-year in January-March, although volumes were down for the second consecutive quarter.

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The miner shipped 3.06 million dry metric tonnes (dmt) of iron ore during the March quarter, up slightly from the 3.03 million tonnes shipped a year earlier.

The latest volumes were in line with Arrium’s sale guidance, according to its filling with Australian Securities Exchange on Monday April 20.

Shipments were down by 7% from 3.29 million dmt in the December quarter, however. Volumes had already fallen by 5% from the previous quarter in October-December.

The miner achieved an average realized price of $46 per dmt cfr during the January-March period, a 28% drop from the preceding quarter.

“Bearish sentiment in [China’s steel industry] and concerns regarding increased supply from the majors has weighed heavily on iron ore markets. Average prices again declined in the quarter, particularly in March, after having stabilised somewhat in February,” the miner said.

The March quarter average for Metal Bulletin’s 58% Fe Premium Index stood at $53.81 per tonne cfr, down 19% from the December quarter.

Arrium recorded a total cash cost of A$66.90 ($52) per dmt during January-March, only A$3.30 ($2.60) per dmt below the average level of the previous quarter.

The miner noted that the sustained decline in price has forced producers to rapidly reduce costs with many high cost operations being squeezed out of the market.

Earlier this month, fellow Australian miner Atlas Iron, which has a production capacity of just 13 million tpy of iron ore, suspended production amid tumbling prices.

Arrium said that the average grade of its shipments during the March quarter was 59.1% Fe.

The miner currently runs two iron ore mining projects – Middleback Ranges and Southern Iron. However, it will mothball its Southern Iron operations as part of a “re-design” plan, which is scheduled for completion by the end of June 2015.

First ores from Iron Knob project railed in the March quarter, with the crushing and screening infrastructure started commissioning late in this period, it said.