A STOCK STRATEGIST INDUSTRY REPORTS by Mathew Hodge
Near-term tightness in the iron ore market has persisted and intensified, with several developments in Brazil further restricting Vale’s (VALE)supply and Cyclone Veronica off Australia interrupting Pilbara shipments. We’ve factored in a reduction of another 20 million tonnes in Vale’s output in 2019 and 10 million tonnes in 2020. We now expect Vale to produce 350 million tonnes in 2019 and 370 million tonnes in 2020, down from an estimated 390 million tonnes in 2018. For Rio Tinto (RIO), BHP (BHP), and Fortescue, we’ve lowered our forecasts by 10 million tonnes in total for 2019 due to the cyclone. The estimated 30 million tonnes of lost supply from Vale and the Pilbara in 2019 is a more than 1% reduction to the seaborne iron ore market.
Disruptions mean that higher-cost iron ore is needed to balance the market, such as from domestic mines in China. The iron ore price has averaged $83 per tonne year to date, well ahead of our prior $65 per tonne forecast for 2019. Accordingly, we are raising our near-term iron ore forecasts to $73 in 2019, $60 in 2020, and $50 per tonne in 2021. Our prior forecasts were $65 in 2019, $55 in 2020, and $40 per tonne in 2021. Our unchanged $40 per tonne long-term forecast now starts a year later, in 2022.
We’ve not changed our $40 per tonne long-term forecast, given the relative flatness of the iron ore cost curve inside the steep tail of smaller-scale and marginal producers, most which we eventually expect to exit. Disruptions to Vale’s supply should resolve within the next few years. In terms of iron ore supply additions, the lost output from Vale, including Samarco, should come back in the medium term. The S11D project should also expand to reach capacity over the next few years. BHP and Rio Tinto should grow modestly as those companies reach their installed capacities. Anglo American’s (NGLOY) Minas Rio mine in Brazil should add more than 20 million tonnes per year after being shut to rectify slurry pipeline leaks. Most of the additional output from Anglo will come in 2019. From a disrupted 2019 base of about 350 million tonnes, we expect Vale’s output to grow to around 425 million tonnes a year from 2023…..
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