Global iron ore production fell by 3 per cent to 2.2 billion tonnes in 2020. Global production is forecast to grow annually by 3.7 per cent to 2,663.4 million tonnes (Mt) between 2021 to 2025, according to GlobalData.
The key contributors to the projected growth will be Brazil (6.2 per cent), South Africa (4.1 per cent), Australia (3.2 per cent) and India (2.9 per cent).
Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include BHP’s South Flank in Australia (2021), Richards Bay Minerals’ Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Aura Minerals’ Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri in Australia (2022).
Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, Vinneth Bajaj, said declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020.
“Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2 Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1 Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020,” Bajaj explained.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4 per cent increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3 Mt to 2,302.5 Mt in 2021.
Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340 Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255 Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December 2020, which is expected to produce between 1–2 Mt in the 2021 financial year.
BHP has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286 Mt on a 100 per cent basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
“The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600 Mt of iron ore, including Fortescue Metals Group, whose production is expected to range between 175–180 Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67 Mt,” Bajaj said.
“Vale is expected to resume 40 Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350 Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335 Mt.”