May 27, 2019 / 3:02 AM / 4 months ago

China's iron ore extends red-hot rally on supply worries

* Speculative trade pushing iron ore price higher - trader

* Another Vale mine tailings dam seen at risk of collapsing

* Iron ore stocks at Chinese ports hit lowest since 2017

By Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, May 27 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore futures hit a new high since 2013 on Monday, extending last week’s record-breaking rally, as stocks of the steelmaking ingredient at ports continued to drop while worries lingered about another Brazil mine dam at risk of collapsing.

Iron ore inventory at Chinese ports SH-TOT-IRONINV has shrank further to the lowest in more than two years, latest data compiled by SteelHome consultancy showed.

Concerns about supply have also intensified after Vale recently told prosecutors in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais that a dam is at risk of rupturing at its Gongo Soco mine.

That mine is about 40 miles from where Vale’s Brumadinho dam collapsed in late January, killing more than 230 people.

The Brumadinho dam disaster and subsequent mine closures in Brazil had prompted Vale, the world’s biggest iron ore miner, to slash its iron ore sales estimate for this year, pushing prices to record highs.

The most-traded September 2019 iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose as much as 4.3% to 758.5 yuan ($110.02) a tonne, the highest since the launch in 2013 of China’s futures trading for one of its top imports.

“Some big funds are trying to push iron ore prices further up,” said a Shanghai-based trader, adding that some “speculative money” was seen flowing into the market.

Speculative trading continued even as “fundamentals do not support the current price levels,” the trader said.

Brazil’s mining secretary had said that the collapse of Vale’s inactive Gongo Soco iron ore mine is inevitable, according to a note from ANZ on Monday.

Such warning raises concerns that Vale “will face further regulatory headwinds,” ANZ said.

Among other steelmaking raw materials, coking coal was up 0.2% at 1,406 yuan a tonne as of 0249 GMT, while coke edged higher by 0.6% to 2,304 yuan.

Steel prices were little changed on Monday after last week’s gains, with the most-active construction steel rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange down 0.1% at 3,860 yuan a tonne.

Hot rolled coil edged down 0.2% to 3,688 yuan a tonne.

($1 = 6.8944 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Rashmi Aich

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