BREE forecasts $119 per tonne fob Australia average for iron ore in 2014

Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) is expecting spot iron ore prices to moderate to an average of $119 per tonne fob Australia in 2014 due to increased supply.

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This is $7 per tonne lower than its forecast for 2013, which it put at $126 per tonne fob Australia, as more iron ore projects transition into the production phase, it said in a report published on Wednesday December 18.

Australia and Brazil, the world’s top two iron ore suppliers, are expected to see their exports of the steelmaking raw material increase by a total of 158 million tonnes in 2014.

By contrast, China, the biggest buyer of iron ore, will see its imports of the material increase by 59 million tonnes next year, according to BREE’s estimates.

About 75% of the world’s seaborne iron ore comes from Australia and Brazil, while China accounts for 50% of global crude steel output.

Most of the increase on the supply side – some 128 million tonnes – will come from Australia, with projects including Fortescue Metal Group’s Solomon Hub, BHP Billiton’s Jimblebar mine, and Rio Tinto’s Hope Downs 4 coming into production.

Brazil will contribute an extra 30 million tonnes in exports from expansions at Vale’s Conceição Itabiritos and Carajas operations.

On the demand side, China’s iron ore imports are expected to grow by 7% from an estimated 793 million tonnes in 2013 to 852 million tonnes in 2014. The bureau attributes this to the country’s “continued strong steel production and limited potential to increase substantially production of domestic ore that has sufficiently high iron content”.

BREE estimates world trade in iron ore to increase by 4% to a total of 1.2 billion tonnes in 2013 and by a further 9% to 1.31 billion tonnes in 2014.