South African iron ore exports have exhibited strong growth throughout 2009, increasing by 42.9% y-o-y in the first nine months of 2009. Imports in the year-to-September totalled 34.7mt, of which 80.7% was destined for China, compared to 45.6% in the same period in 2008. Combined exports to all other Countries have declined by 50.6% y-o-y in the first nine months of the year, and in particular, exports to the EU have declined by 68.1% y-o-y.
Full year exports are currently projected to reach 46.9mt, an increase of 15.3mt (48.4%) y-o-y.
Chinese iron ore imports in November reached 51.1mt, up 12.3% m-o-m and 56.8% y-o-y. This brought imports in the year-to-date to 566.3mt equating to an increase of 38.2% compared to the same period in 2008. Imports in the full year are projected to reach 615.7mt, representing growth of 173.2mt (39.1%) y-o-y, and provisional projections for 2010 indicate further growth of around 6% y-o-y.
Seaborne Canadian iron ore exports have remained relatively robust so far in 2009 and, despite the distance involved, much of the demand for the country’s ore has come from China.
Canadian iron ore exports (excluding those to the US) in September totalled 2.7mt, up 64.1% y-o-y and in the first nine months of 2009 exports totalled 18.9mt, up 8.9% y-o-y. Exports to China were up by 138.2% y-o-y during the period, whereas seaborne exports to other destinations were down by 13.4% y-o-y. The positive for ship owners is that this shift in destination has led to an estimated 20% increase in iron ore tonne mile exports from Canada. The increase in Canada’s exports has also provided evidence that it is not just the big three exporters of Australia, Brazil and India that are benefiting from China's strong demand.
In the first ten months of 2009 the three big exporters were the source for 81.4% of China’s iron ore imports, whereas in the same period of
2008 they accounted for 84.2% of China’s imports.
This demonstrates that the strong and relatively sudden iron ore demand growth by China has made it necessary for importers to diversify and look elsewhere for the country’s ore requirements.
However, the three major iron ore exporters have obviously still hugely benefited from China’s insatiable iron ore demand in 2009. In the first nine j months of 2008, cumulative exports from India, Australia and Brazil totalled 545.1mt, of which 296.8mt (54.4%) was destined for China. In the same period of 2009 overall exports by the three have remained relatively constant, totalling 548.8mt, up just 0.7% y-o-y. However, the volume of exports destined for China has risen significantly to 390.9mt (71.2%).
Dry Bulk trade outlook, CLARKSON Research Services limited, Volume 15, No. 12. December, 2009