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Global iron ore cost summary

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Report summary

Iron ore producers have enjoyed a remarkable 2017. Prices for 62% Fe fines have ranged between US$54/tonne and US$95/tonne (CFR China) and will average US$71/tonne for the year. As a result, average seaborne export margins increased 33% to US$37/tonne, which is the highest since 2014.Average seaborne cash costs rose in 2017 by 14% to US$35/tonne (CFR China) - the first increase since 2013. Much of the rise in costs was because of uncontrollable factors, especially ocean freight and royalties. But cost increases will not become a feature of the iron ore market. We expect costs to rise by only 1% a year over the next five years. Rising diesel prices and higher strip ratios will be offset by ongoing productivity gains especially from automation.Capital expenditure is estimated to have contracted in 2017 and will fall again next year as the pipeline of greenfield iron ore projects is largely empty for the next few years.

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Table of contents

  • Executive summary
    • Vale
    • Rio Tinto
    • BHP Billiton
    • Fortescue
  • Reserves and resources
  • Production
  • Quality
    • Operating costs
    • Delivered costs
      • Capital expenditure by project category (nominal to 2017 and real thereafter)
  • Margins
    • Russia

Tables and charts

This report includes 26 images and tables including:


  • Attributable marketable production by key company
  • 2017 split of attributable marketable production
  • 2017 Global operating margin curve (US$/tonne)
  • 2017 Global total cash cost curve (US$/tonne) FOB / ex mine
  • Average total cash cost 2009 – 2030 (US$/tonne, nominal to 2017 real thereafter)
  • Delivered iron ore cash costs, CFR North China 2017 US$/dmt 62% Fe fines equivalent
  • Costs: Image 4


  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Liberia
  • Mauritania
  • Peru
  • Republic of Congo
  • Fiscal terms: Table 14
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Ukraine
  • United States

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