RPT-Rio Tinto CEO says high-cost iron ore miners squeezed by low prices -TV
(Repeats story published late Tuesday; no changes to text)
Dec 15 (Reuters) - High-cost iron ore producers are "hanging on by their fingernails", Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh said on Tuesday, as miners fight for survival in the face of falling metal prices amid a glut and weak demand.
Over the past five years, small producers have added 400 million tonnes of capacity, Walsh said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
"Most of that tonnage falls into the high-cost category. So at the moment, those people are hanging on by their fingernails," he added. "But sooner or later the adjustment will take place."
The spot iron ore price fell to its lowest since at least 2008 at $37 a tonne last week amid shrinking demand for the steel-making ingredient in major consumer China.
Rio as the world's lowest cost producer is still profitable even as prices have slumped.
When asked if prices could slide as low as $30 a tonne, Walsh said it would not be able to remain there long due to the large number of mines that would shut down.
"It's not sustainable. It is fantasy land at that level."
Iron ore supply is dominated by Brazil's Vale, followed by the giants of Western Australia's vast Pilbara deposits, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group. Continuación...