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Australia: now largest iron ore exporter to India

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Dry Bulk,

Australia was the largest exporter of iron ore to India in the 2017 - 2018 fiscal year ended 31 March after being a marginal supplier for the past several years, reports Argus Media.

Australia exported 2.86 million t of iron ore in 2017 - 2018, around 33% of total Indian imports, compared with 5539 t in 2016 - 2017, according to government data.

Most of the exports from Australia probably came from Fortescue Metals, which has shipped over 2 million t of medium grade fines to India since January 2018. The buyer was possibly a large-scale Indian steel mill with a west coast-based plant that increased its use of Fortescue's fines as the spread between 62 - 65% Fe fines widened, said market participants.

South Africa exported to India 2.74 million t of iron ore in 2017 - 2018 compared with 2.38 million t in 2016 - 2017, while Brazil's exports were at 2.17 million t compared with 1.73 million t over the same comparison.

Total imports by India increased by 89% in 2017 - 2018 to 8.7 million t from 4.6 million t in 2016 - 2017. Most of India's iron ore imports are by coastal mills that have the flexibility of weighing up domestic and imported prices and import opportunistically. But a portion of the imports of plus 65% Fe fines and concentrate are also done to increase blast furnace productivity and lower impurities in the furnace burden.

India's domestic iron ore output increased in 2017 - 2018 to 210.28 million t compared with 192.08 million t in 2016 - 2017 and 158 million t in 2015 - 2016, according to preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Mines. This is poised to slide in 2018 - 2019 as the Supreme Court has suspended mining in west India's Goa state since 15 March. But since most of Goa's output was exported to China this will not affect domestic availability that is currently sufficient to meet steel mills' requirements.

India's iron ore exports fell by around 21% to 24.38 million t in 2017 - 2018 compared with 30.72 million t in 2016 - 2017.

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