Iron ore price crashes through $50 – by Frik Els (Mining.com – October 28, 2015)

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The price of iron ore dropped for the 12th session in a row on Wednesday falling through the psychologically important $50 a tonne level as bearish fundamentals overwhelm the sector.

On Wednesday the benchmark 62% Fe import price including freight and insurance at the Chinese port of Tianjin declined 2.6% to $49.50 a tonne, the lowest since mid-July and down 11% in just two weeks according to data provided by The SteelIndex. In July, the steelmaking raw material on a spot price basis, fell to a record low of $44.10.

China forges 46% of the world’s steel and consumes for more than 70% of the world’s seaborne iron ore trade, but years of overproduction and unprofitability at the country’s giant state-owned mills are now bringing 30 years of growing output to screeching halt.

China’s largest steel producers had combined losses of CNY28 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in the first nine months of 2015, according to the China Iron and Steel Association as mills struggle to remain profitable amid a saturated domestic market. Shanghai rebar prices continued to languish on Wednesday with the benchmark futures contract coming close to dipping to a fresh record low of a shade over $280 a tonne.

Crude steel output in the country continued to shrink in September, down 3% to 66m tonnes while year to date output has declined more than 2%. Ongoing losses and promises by Beijing to overhaul the country’s creaking state-owned enterprise will lead to further production cuts. The World Steel Organization forecasts steel demand in China will shrink by -3.5% this year.

Last week the chairman of one of the largest steelmakers Shanghai Baosteel’s Xu Lejiang, said the country’s steel demand is weakening at “unprecedented speed” and forecast nationwide output may eventually slump 20%, mirroring similar developments in Europe as the US and markets matured.

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