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Brazil Iron Ore Exports Recovering, Bodes Well for Dry Bulk Market’s Long Term Prospects

In what could only be deemed as a positive development for the dry bulk maritime industry, Brazil’s iron ore exports appear to be gradually edging higher, after some pretty turbulent period, dating back to the start of 2019. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “Brazil’s iron ore exports have been gradually but steadily recovering following a disastrous winter period of 2019/2020. In the first 9 months of 2020, Brazil exported 238.7 mln tonnes of iron ore by sea, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv. This represents a net decline of -4.9% y-o-y compared to the 250.9 mln tonnes exported in the same period of 2019, and is also -15.9% lower than the 283.8 mln tonnes exported in Jan-Sep 2018”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

However, this is a much better result than what could have been expected at the start of the year. In January 2020, when China was starting to be hit by the pandemic, Brazil managed to ship out just 20.8 mln tonnes of iron ore. This was a whopping -26.6% less than in December 2019, and -30.8% down on a year-on-year basis. In the whole of the first quarter of 2020, Brazil exported 65.0 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a disappointing -17.2% decline on the same period last year. At the time, most people thought that things could go even worse, what with all the lockdowns and terrible forecasts for the economy. However, January proved to be the low point of the year. In April-June 2020, ore exports increased to 77.9 mln tonnes, which was +19.9% more than in the first quarter of the year, and actually up +1.4% year-on-year but only due to the low base of a disastrous second quarter last year, which was heavily impacted by the Brumadinho dam disaster”, said the shipbroker.

According to Banchero Costa, “things were even better in the third quarter of 2020. In the JulySeptember period, Brazil exported 95.9 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a strong +23.1% more than in the second quarter, and also +0.2% more than in 3Q2019. In terms of trading patters, China is emerging as even more dominating than it already was. Direct shipments to China remained by far the top destination this year, accounting for 66.9% of Brazil’s iron ore exports in Jan-Sep 2020. This is up from a 61.2% share in the same period last year”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

“Total direct volumes to China increased by +3.9% y-o-y in JanSep 2020 to 159.6 mln tonnes. Shipments to Malaysia (essentially Vale’s transhipment facilities) decreased sharply though, by -29.9% y-o-y to 11.6 mln tonnes. Malaysia was the destination of 4.9% of iron ore shipments from Brazil so far this year. From Malaysia, 8.3 mln tonnes were then shipped onwards to China (70%), and 2.6 mln tonnes to Vietnam (22%), with most of the rest to Indonesia (4%). Volumes also declined from Brazil to Japan, by -33.4% y-o-y to 5.3 mln tonnes, and to South Korea by -21.3% y-o-y to 4.3 mln tonnes. Direct shipments to Japan now account for 2.2% of Brazil’s total iron ore exports, whilst those to South Korea account for 1.8%. Shipments from Brazil to the EU (excluding the UK) dropped by a sharp -45.0% y-o-y this year. The European Union accounted for 5.5% of Brazil’s iron ore shipments. Exports to the GCC countries (primarily pelletising plants in Oman and Bahrain) declined by -26.1% y-o-y in Jan-Sep 2020. The GCC accounted for 4.3% of Brazil’s exports this year. Finally, shipments to Turkey increased marginally by +2.1% y-oy to 3.7 mln tonnes”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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