Clyde Russell is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.
LAUNCESTON, Australia, July 18 (Reuters) – Ramping up output in the face of an expected easing in demand growth may seem like an odd tactic for a miner, but it’s exactly what Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are doing in iron ore.
The world’s second- and third-ranked producers both said this week that their expansion plans are on track, notwithstanding the expected slowdown in China, which buys about two-thirds of global seaborne iron ore supply.
But there is method in the seeming madness of increasing production when the demand outlook is less than rosy. Both Rio and BHP are effectively betting that their low-cost operations in Australia will be able to dominate the market, squeezing out both Chinese domestic production and higher-cost mines elsewhere in Australia and around the globe.
They are also betting that the fears of a slowdown in Chinese demand growth are being overstated, and that import volumes will remain healthy. While these may look like risky assumptions for the two Anglo-Australian mining giants, they stand a good chance of being correct. Continue Reading →