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China's closed iron ore mines unlikely to restart

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Report summary

Despite high iron ore prices, we do not expect closed Chinese mines to restart production. Based on costs alone, an iron ore price of US$80/tonne is enough to incentivise almost 100 million tonnes of Chinese capacity to restart. But the reality of reopening mines is more complex than just considering costs. The main factors against restarts include expectations that prices will fall, lack of finance and environmental licencing. Most Chinese industry participants we have contacted expect Chinese domestic concentrate production to fall, not rise, this year. We hold the same view. We expect prices to fall towards US$50/tonne by the end of the year, leading to a further drop in Chinese production of around 20 million tonnes as lower-cost imports displace higher-cost domestic supply.

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Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Incentive price for reopening Chinese mines
  • Lack of finance, lower prices and permitting will impede restarts

Tables and charts

This report includes 2 images and tables including:

Images

  • China restart incentive curve 2017 (62% Fe fines equivalent)
  • Potential private capacity re-starts at different prices

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