India - Iron-ore prices fall up to 10% amid Covid fears

Issued at 2022-04-28

Indian prices, though stable, there could be a lag impact of two to three weeks before corrections happen.

Iron-ore prices globally have taken a hit and are down at least 9-10 per cent amid fears of rising Covid cases in China’s capital Beijing; and that ever more areas of the nation could come under restrictions that hit its financial hub in Shanghai.

Indian prices, though, continue to be stable week-on-week, and market sources say there could be a lag impact of two to three weeks before corrections happen.

Offers for sea-borne iron ore fines of Grade 62 per cent (technically called 62% Fe fines) plunged to $135/tonne in China, down 10 per cent or $15 per cent per tonne.

The most-traded iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange for September delivery tumbled 10.7 per cent to 795 yuan ($121.36) a tonne, the lowest closing price since March 23, reports suggested.

Price Correction in India

Meanwhile, prices in India as per Odisha Mineral Corporation (OMC) auctions have seen a ₹200 –300 per tonne rise weekly.

The price of 62% Fe fines was hovering between ₹6,100 and ₹6,200 per tonne (including royalty and other charges); while the 63% Fe fines grade was at ₹6,400–6,500 per tonne (including royalty and other charges).

In India, iron ore price movements are determined by pellet and sponge iron prices. Trade sources say the price of both semi-finished products and sponge-iron were higher, which led to increase iron-ore prices here.

“So it takes two to three weeks for corrections to happen in India. The OMC or NMDC generally watch out some time before announcing price changes. So if the fall continues globally, we might see the price revisions happen soon,” VR Sharma, Managing Director, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) told BusinessLine.

According to him, India does not import iron-ore fines, so there is some cushion from global price volatility. However, user industries would not like too much of a price difference (in India), especially when global prices of iron ore are lower.

“Steel demand looks stable India and share of exports from the country are increasing. There is a fit case then to reduce prices here if global iron ore prices continue their slide. So we may see a ₹500–1,000 / tonne decline in ore price here, if trends persist,” Sharma added.

Price changes in India, announced by NMDC, are generally in multiples of ₹500/tonne.