JGlobal seaborne iron ore trade has trended lower so far this year, mainly due to lower iron ore imports from China. In its latest weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “global iron ore loadings in the full 12 months of 2021 increased by +0.7% year-on-year to 1,555.3 million tonnes , according to ship tracking data from Refinitiv. So far in 2022, iron ore trade has slowed again, mainly due to weaker demand from China and supply issues in Brazil. In January-August 2022, global iron ore loadings decreased by -2.6% year-on-year to 993.8 mln tonnes, compared to 1,020.6 mln t during the same period in 2021. exports from Australia increased by +0.7% y/y in January-August 2022 to 584.3 mln tonnes. , just slightly below 2020 levels, which was the most recent record high, and above 2018 and 2019 levels. Exports from Brazil, on the other hand, fell -4.5% year-on-year to now this year to reach 218.0 million tonnes, up from 228.2 million tonnes in the same period last year, although they were still higher than in 2020”.
According to the shipbroker, “demand is weighed down by the weaker economy in China, with iron ore imports into the country down -1.9% year-on-year to 706.3 million tonnes in the first 8 months of 2022. On the other hand, the European Union is experiencing a recovery, with imports up +3.6% year-on-year to 56.5 mln tonnes over the same period. Europe, however, are still well below the levels of 2019 (62.8 million tonnes in the January-August period of that year) and 2018 (65.7 million tonnes)”.
“Canada is the fourth largest exporter of iron ore in the world, after Australia, Brazil and South Africa. In January-August 2022, Canada accounted for 3.3% of global iron ore shipments by sea. Iron ore exports by sea from Canada peaked in 2020 and have since declined. Canada’s iron ore exports in the 12 months of 2020 increased by +10.3% year-on-year to 56.6 million tonnes, from 51.4 million tonnes in 2019. It was him- even up +8.4% from 47.4 million tonnes in 2018. In 2021, however, Canada only exported 53.1 million tonnes of iron ore, which is a drop of -6.2% YoY. So far this year, we have seen a continuation of this negative trend. In the first 8 months of 2022, Canada exported 32.8 million tonnes of iron ore, down -3.5% year-on-year from the 33.9 million tonnes shipped during the same period last year. The vast majority of Canadian iron ore exports are loaded in the St. Lawrence River in the east of the country”.
Banchero Costa added that “the largest loading port by volumes is Sept-Îles (Seven Islands), with 18.3 million tonnes of iron ore loaded in the first 8 months of 2022. 12.8 million tonnes additional iron ore have been loaded this year from nearby port Cartier, and another 1.7 million tonnes have been loaded this year from Milne Inlet on Baffin Island, far to the north of the Arctic. given the location of the loading ports, the natural market for Canadian iron ore is the Atlantic Basin.However, given the limited size and lack of growth potential of the European market, Canada has also diversified with success in Asian markets The European Union is still by far the top destination, accounting for 39.8% of Canada’s total iron ore exports so far in 2022. The EU, which was already the top buyer of Canadian maritime iron ore, still has a increased its volumes by +4.5% year-on-year in January-August 2022 to 13.0 million tonnes in January-August 2021, compared to 12.5 million tonnes in the same period of 2021. However, this was still well below the 13.8 million tonnes that Canada exported to the EU in January-August 2019. The second top destination for Canadian iron ore exports is mainland China, which accounts for a 20 percent share, 8%. Shipments from Canada to China were down -18.8% year-on-year to 6.8 million tonnes in the first 8 months of 2022, from 8.4 million tonnes in January-August 2021. They were also well below the record of 12.4 million tonnes shipped in January-August 2020. Japan was in third place, with 3.6 million tonnes in January-August 2022, down -20.6% year-on-year . Japan accounts for 11.1% of Canada’s total exports,” the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide