Steel Products Prices North America

CRU: Iron Ore Prices March Ahead, But Coal Market Unchanged

Written by Anh Nghiem

By CRU Steel Prices Lead Anh Nghiem, from the Steelmaking Raw Materials Monitor

Iron ore prices have been gradually increasing over the past week with improving steel prices and positive signals from the Chinese futures market. According to a market source, market participants’ confidence has improved significantly since steel prices started to increase and this was reflected in the strong iron ore futures market in China. On the supply side, shipments from Port Hedland have held steady at a high level, registering a third consecutive week of exceeding 10 Mt.

The 62% Fe Brazilian Blend fines were traded at $91 /t CFR China late on Monday, while the offer for the same grade was at only $89 /t CFR China on Friday.

CRU has assessed the weekly 62% Fe fines price at $88.5 /t, which is a $3.5 /t increase w/w. Even though both 58% and 65% Fe fines also increased, we saw a bigger increase for high grade iron ore. This means steel mills have moved their focus from cost to efficiency.

Weak Buying Leaves the Coking Coal Market Flat

Coking coal prices have been relatively stable for the past few weeks as Chinese market participants are waiting to see an update on coal import restrictions from the Chinese government. In India, the bids for coking coal cargoes have not gone up yet, despite an improvement in steel demand.

On the supply side, shipments from Hay Point remained weak yet again, totaling 2.4 Mt in the past week, down 0.3 Mt w/w. There was a tragic accident at the Carborough Downs coking coal mine in Queensland where a worker lost his life. The mine has currently suspended operations until further notice. This accident took place a week after the coal industry witnessed two major coal mine accidents in Shanxi and Shandong province, where more people lost their lives. As a result, mine safety inspections are currently ongoing in Shanxi and apparently domestic coal output is not ramping up.

CRU assessed the weekly average price for Premium HCC, FOB Australia, at $134 /t, unchanged w/w, while Standard HCC, FOB Australia, was assessed at $121 /t, flat w/w.

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