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EU’s Iron Ore Imports Down Again This Year

Iron ore imports from the EU have been on the decline, with 2023 proving to be no exception. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “2023 has been so far a positive year for global iron ore trade. In Jan-Oct 2023, global loadings of iron ore increased by +5.1% y-o-y to 1,343.8 mln tonnes, from 1,278.9 in the same period of 2022, based on AXS Marine vessel tracking data. It is also just above the 1,320.1 mln tonnes loaded in Jan-Oct 2021, which was the last all-time record. Exports from Australia increased by +1.9% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2023 to 760.5 mln tonnes, easily a new alltime record high. From Brazil, exports surged by +6.8% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2023 to 294.8 mln t. India also saw an increase of +157.6% y-o-y to 33.5 mln tonnes. From South Africa volumes have been down -6.0% y-o-y to 42.7 mln t in Jan-Oct 2023. Demand has been poor everywhere except in Mainland China. Imports into China have been up +5.8% y-o-y to 999.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Oct 2023. Iron ore imports into Japan declined by -5.9% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2023 to 80.1 mln t. Volumes into South Korea were down by -4.4% y-o-y to 59.0 mln t. To Malaysia also down -9.8% y-o-y to 17.2 mln tonnes”.

Source: Banchero Costa

According to Banchero Costa, “the European Union (27) is currently the third largest importer of iron ore in the world, after China and Japan. Europe’s steel industry has long been overshadowed by China and the rest of Asia, and presently Europe accounts for just 7% of global crude steel production, and 5% of global iron ore imports. In the 12 months of 2022, the EU imported 78.9 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a -8.0% decline y-oy, from 85.8 mln tonnes imported in the full year 2021. This was well above the low, lockdown-affected, 69.4 mln tonnes imported in 2020, but also well below the 87.7 mln tonnes imported in 2019 or the 98.2 mln t in 2018”.

The shipbroker added that “in January-October 2023, imports into the EU again declined by -11.2% y-o-y to 60.3 mln t, from 67.9 mln t in the same period of 2022. About 50% of imports into the EU in Jan-Oct 2023 were loaded on Capesize tonnage, about 33% on Panamaxes or Post-Panamaxes, and 10% on Supramaxes. In terms of individual countries, 41.4% of imports in Jan-Oct 2023 were done by the Netherlands (largely due to the importance of Rotterdam as a gateway port). German ports accounted for 18.9% of imports in Jan-Oct 2023, followed by France with 11.7%, Belgium with 7.5%, Italy with 6.5%, Spain with 6.2%, Poland with 1.0%. Looking at individual discharging ports in the EU, we have: Rotterdam (19.2 mln tonnes of iron ore discharged in Jan-Oct 2023), Hamburg (7.8 mln t), Ijmuiden (5.1 mln t), Ghent (4.3 mln t), Dunkirk (4.1 mln t), Taranto (3.7 mln t), Bremen (3.5 mln t), Gijon (3.4 mln t), Fos (3.0 mln t), Koper (2.0 mln t), Constanta (1.0 mln t), Raahe (0.6 mln t), Swinoujscie (0.5 mln t).

Source: Banchero Costa

When it comes to the sources of the shipments, Brazil has now lost its top spot to Canada. Brazil was the overall top supplier of iron ore to the European Union in 2022, accounting for 26.9% of the EU’s total imports last year. However, shipments from Brazil to the EU declined by -15.9% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2023 to just 14.9 mln tonnes, from 17.7 mln t in Jan-Oct 2022, and also below the 19.9 mln t in Jan-Oct 2021. Shipments from Canada to the EU, on the other hand, increased in JanOct 2023 by +4.6% y-o-y to 18.8 mln tonnes. Canada accounted for 31% of the EU’s ore imports in Jan-Oct 2023. Shipments from South Africa also declined by -12.3% y-o-y in Jan-Oct 2023 to 9.9 mln tonnes. Exports from Norway to the EU were also down -4.7% y-o-y to 7.8 mln t in Jan-Oct 2023”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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