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Australia Remains a Key Exporter of Iron Ore to China

Tensions aside, China remains Australia’s biggest market for iron ore, accounting for almost 80% of its exports in 2021. In a recent weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa noted that “2021 was still a reasonably positive year for global iron ore trade, despite China’s cooling demand, with the rest of the world stepping in with iron ore imports to fill in the gap. Total global loadings in the 12 months of 2021 were up +0.6% y-o-y to 1554.1 million tonnes, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. Mainland China accounted for 67% of global seaborne iron ore imports, and saw imports decreased by -6.9% y-o-y to 1043.6 mln tonnes in 2021.

According to the shipbroker, “things were looking up in the rest of the world. Imports to Japan increased by +14.6% y-o-y to 98.6 mln tonnes in 2021. Imports to the European Union surged by +15.6% y-o-y to 83.0 mln tonnes in 2021. Volumes to South Korea rise by +15.1% y-o-y to 79.9 mln tonnes. Shipments to Taiwan, CN also boosted by +11.1% y-o-y to 23.4 mln tonnes. However, volumes to Malaysia declined by -2.2% y-o-y to 21.4 mln tonnes in 2021. In terms of exporters, Australia still comes out on top in 2021, with 56.8% of global iron ore shipments”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a

“In the 12 months of 2021, Australia exported 882.5 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a -0.4% drop y-o-y. Brazil, the world’s second-largest exporter, showed no signs of slowing down in 2021, with exports rising by +4.1 percent y-o-y to 347.9 million tonnes. In 2021, Australia performed particularly poorly in the first half of the year. In the first 3 months of 2021, Australia exported 208.4 mln tonnes of iron ore, up +2.6% y-o-y. The first quarter is traditionally the quietest period of the year, as it’s affected by the Lunar New Year holidays in China, as well as weather disruptions from the “Wet” season in Northern Australia. In the second quarter, exports slowed down slightly to 225.6 mln tonnes, which decreased -2.5% y-o-y from the same quarter in 2021. The third quarter of 2021 saw shipments of 225.9 mln tonnes from Australia, +2.5% y-o-y. The fourth quarter of 2021 saw exports dropping again to 222.7 mln tonnes, down -2.1% compared to the same quarter in 2021. The main iron ore export terminals in Australia are: Port Hedland (521.9 mln tonnes loaded in 2021), Port Walcott (176.9 mln t), Dampier (132.4 mln t), Cape Preston (20.5 mln t), Geraldton (12.3 mln t), Esperance (9.4 mln t), Whyalla (7.5 mln t). In terms of destinations of the shipments, things were quite predictable in 2021”.

Mainland China is still by far the top destination for Australian iron ore, accounting for 79.9% of Australia’s exports in 2021. Shipments to Mainland China decreased by -4.1% y-o-y to 704.8 mln t in 2021. On the other hand, exports from Australia to Japan increased by +14.6% y-o-y to 66.9 mln tonnes in the 12 months of 2021.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a

Shipments to South Korea went up by +14.1% y-o-y to 60.4 mln tonnes. Iron ore exports to Taiwan, CN also rose by +7.1% y-o-y to 21.3 mln tonnes. The largest increase was to Vietnam, up by +39.4% y-o-y to 11.1 mln tonnes in 2021. Volumes to Indonesia surged by +35.8% y-o-y y-o-y to 7.3 mln tonnes. Last but not least, exports to Malaysia fell by -36.4% to 2.1 mln tonnes in 2021.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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