Brazil’s Iron Ore Exports on the Rise in 2023

The Brazilian iron ore market has improved during 2023, with exports on the rise, much to the delight of the dry bulk market. 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-Aug 2023, global loadings of iron ore increased by +4.0% y-o-y to 1,028.8 mln tonnes, from 988.9 in the same period of 2022, based on Refinitiv vessel tracking data. It is also just above the 1,020.9 mln tonnes loaded in Jan-Aug 2021, which was the last all-time record. Exports from Australia increased by +2.5% y-o-y in Jan-Aug 2023 to 598.9 mln tonnes, easily a new alltime record high. From South Africa volumes have been down -4.3% y-o-y to 36.6 mln t in Jan-Aug 2023. From Canada, export volumes were up +4.3% y-o-y to 34.2 mln t in JanAug 2023. India also saw an increase of +67.7% y-o-y to 22.8 mln tonnes”.

Source: Banchero Costa

According to Banchero Costa, “demand has been poor everywhere except in Mainland China. Imports into China have been up +7.9% y-o-y to 759.7 mln tonnes in Jan-Aug 2023. To the European Union imports ended up down -15.8% y-o-y to 46.9 mln tonnes in Jan-Aug 2023. Iron ore imports into Japan declined by -8.6% y-o-y in Jan-Aug 2023 to 57.8 mln t. Volumes into South Korea were down by -11.1% y-o-y to 43.8 mln t”.

“Brazil is currently the second largest exporter of iron ore in the world, after Australia. In 2022, Brazil accounted for 22.4% of global iron ore shipments, after Australia’s 59.0%. South Africa is third with just a tiny 3.5% share. In the 12 months of 2021, Brazil exported 346.9 mln tonnes of iron ore, which was a +3.8% increase yo-y, from a low of 334.2 mln tonnes exported in the full year 2020. This was also higher than the low 340.5 mln tonnes loaded in 2019. It was however significantly below the 386.9 mln t exported by Brazil in 2018, or the 378.7 mln t in 2017. In 2022, activity softened again due to supply and logistical issues, with iron ore exports from Brazil declining by -2.1% y-o-y to 339.7 mln tonnes”, said Banchero Costa.

Source: Banchero Costa

The shipbroker said that “in Jan-Aug 2023, Exports from Brazil increased by +6.9% y-o-y to 232.2 mln t from 217.3 mln t in Jan-Aug 2022, and also just above the 228.2 mln t in Jan-Aug 2021. About 15% of exports from Brazil in Jan-Aug 2023 were loaded on VLOCs (including Valemaxes), about 76% was loaded on Capesize tonnage, about 6% on Panamaxes, and 2% on Handymaxes. Looking at major loading ports for iron ore in Brazil, we have: Ponta da Madeira (95.5 mln tonnes in Jan-Aug 2023), Itaguai (46.6 mln t), Tubarao (44.1 mln t), Sepetiba Bay (17.6 mln t), Acu (15.4 mln t), Ponta Ubu (5.8 mln t), Itaqui (5.1 mln t), Imbituba (2.2 mln t). Mainland China is still by far the top destination for Brazilian iron ore, accounting for 61.2% of Brazil’s exports in Jan-Aug 2023. Shipments to Mainland China increased by +0.2% y-o-y to 142.2 mln t in Jan-Aug 2023. This followed a -5.8% decline in Jan-Aug 2022 from the very strong 150.7 mln tonnes shipped from Brazil to China in Jan-Aug 2021. Exports from Brazil to the EU declined by -17.8% y-o-y to 13.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Aug 2023. This is above the 12.2 mln t in Jan-Aug 2020, but well below the 22.1 mln t in Jan-Aug 2019. Shipments to the GCC countries declined by -8.3% y-o-y to 14.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Aug 2023. To Japan there was a +4.3% y-o-y increase to 7.5 mln t in Jan-Aug 2023 from 7.2 mln t in Jan-Aug 2022, but below the 7.7 mln t in JanAug 2021. Volumes to Malaysia (which is mostly for transhipment to other Asian destinations) contracted by -7.5% y-o-y in Jan-Aug 2023 to 10.8 mln tonnes from 11.7 mln t in JanAug 2022, and well below the 14.1 mln t in Jan-Aug 2021”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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