The global iron ore seaborne trade has been on the decline so far this year. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “so far in 2022, iron ore trade softened again, primarily due to weaker demand from China and supply issues in Brazil. In January-October 2022, global iron ore loadings declined by -2.6% y-o-y to 1,254.5 mln tonnes, from 1,287.7 mln t in the same period of 2021, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. Volumes were essentially at par with the 1,254.6 mln tonnes shipped in the same period of 2019”.
The shipbroker said that “exports from Australia increased by +0.8% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2022 to 738.1 mln tonnes, marginally above 2020 levels, and a new record high. Exports from Brazil, on the other hand, declined by -2.9% y-o-y so far this year to 279.7 mln tonnes, from 288.2 mln tonnes in the same period of last year, although they were still higher than in 2020. Volumes from South Africa increased marginally by +0.7% y-o-y so far this year to 46.3 mln tonnes. Demand is weighted down by a weakening economy in China, with iron ore imports into the country down by -2.1% y-o-y to 889.5 mln t in the first 10 months of 2022. On the other hand, the European Union is seeing an (unfortunately already weakening…) revival, with imports up +1.2% y-o-y to 70.8 mln tonnes in the same period. Imports into Europe, however, are still well below the levels of 2019 (80.0 mln t in the Jan-Oct period of that year) and 2018 (81.6 mln t)”.
According to Banchero Costa, “Australia is by far the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, with a 58.8% market share so far in 2022, well ahead of Brazil’s 22.3% and South Africa’s 3.7%. Australia’s seaborne iron ore exports in the 12 months of 2021 declined by -0.3% y-o-y to 883.8 mln tonnes. This was however just a correction from very strong volumes in the previous year. In 2020, iron ore exports from Australia surged by +3.3% y-o-y to an all-time record 886.2 mln tonnes. Things begun again to improve in 2022, with export volumes up by +0.8% y-o-y in the first 10 months of the year. The main iron ore export terminals in Australia are: Port Hedland (429.1 mln t loaded in Jan-Oct 2022), Port Walcott (140.0 mln t), Dampier (103.7 mln t), Cape Preston (17.0 mln t), Geraldton (9.5 mln t), Esperance (6.2 mln t), Whyalla (6.1 mln t). The vast majority (94%) of iron ore volumes from Australia are loaded on Capesize vessels, with the rest on Panamax/Supramax”.
“In terms of destinations for iron ore exports from Australia, unsurprisingly things are pretty polarized. Mainland China is by far the top iron ore importer from Australia, with an overall 82.6% share of shipments from Australian ports so far this year. Exports to China from Australia increased by +3.5% y-o-y to 609.6 mln t in the first 10 months of 2022, from 589.2 mln tonnes in the same period of 2021. This however was still below the alltime record 614.8 mln tonnes shipped by Australia to China in JanOct 2020. The second largest destination for Australian ore is Japan, with a 7.0% share. Shipments from Australia to Japan declined sharply by -7.2% y-o-y to 51.5 mln tonnes in the first 10 months of 2022, from 55.4 mln tonnes in the same period of 2021. This was above the 46.1 mln tonnes in Jan-Oct 2020 but below the 55.3 mln t in Jan-Oct 2019. Export to South Korea are down by – 16.0% y-o-y to 41.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Oct 2022 from 49.3 mln t in JanOct 2021. Volumes from Australia to Taiwan declined by -7.1% y-o-y to 16.7 mln tonnes so far this year. To Vietnam volumes are down -13.6% y-o-y to 8.2 mln t in Jan-Oct 2022 from 9.5 mln t in Jan-Oct 2021. To Indonesia it’s +1.4% y-o-y to 6.2 mln tonnes from 6.1 mln t in the same period last year”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide