David Hargreaves on Iron Ore, Week 49 2011



David Hargreaves

Iron Ore Pricing. We have long advocated a clearing house system for iron ore, based on the LME format. Opponents argue it would be too difficult. So were aluminium and nickel before someone did it. Now the world’s largest producer, Vale SA of Brazil (24% of world total), is edging closer. It is to base its quarterly contracts on “actual averages” on spot prices, not lagging ones. On that basis, prices will be 20% lower Q4 than Q3 2011, but that’s show business. It makes the spot price truly relevant.

Not all is gloom in the largest non-oil bulk market. RMG’s Magnus Ericsson remains most positive on a 5-10 year outlook.

He stresses that miners must learn to the politics of dealing with places like Guinea and Canada’s far north. Yet he is sanguine on price: not much below $100 and $120-130 for the next twenty years. We would have thought that a deterrent to c.30% Fe north of the 54º.


About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.


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