Iran iron ore exports may dry up on weak prices, steel target
By Manolo Serapio Jr
QINGDAO, China, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Iran's iron ore exports may stop from 2019 due to low prices and as it consumes more of the raw material in its bid to more than triple steel production by 2025, said an industry executive from the country.
From 23.6 million tonnes in 2013, Iran's iron ore shipments are likely to drop to 15-16 million tonnes this year and to less than 10 million tonnes by 2017, said Keyvan Jafari Tehrani from the Iron Ore Producers and Exporters Association of Iran (IROPEX).
"And maybe from 2019 onwards, there will be no quantity to export from Iran," Tehrani, who oversees international affairs at IROPEX, told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in the Chinese city of Qingdao.
Iran exported 22 million tonnes of iron ore in 2014, the ninth biggest in the world, according to data from the International Steel Statistics Bureau. But that was just a fraction of the 754 million tonnes from top shipper Australia.
A 60-percent slide in iron ore prices over the past two years has shut higher cost mines globally, including many in Iran, leaving a big chunk of the Chinese market - the largest for the raw material - to low-cost suppliers from Australia and Brazil.
From around $57 a tonne .IO62-CNI=SI currently, analysts polled by Reuters expect iron ore to average $50 over the next two years amid signals that steel demand in China has peaked or is close to peaking.
Iran's exports of the bulk commodity to China fell nearly 50 percent to just over 8 million tonnes in January-August, based on Chinese customs data.
Iran also needs more iron ore at home as it plans to lift steel output to 55 million tonnes by 2025 from 16.3 million tonnes last year. Continuación...