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Muted demand from sponge & steel industry, pellet manufacturers and other end-use industries in India pushed up iron ore stock in key producing states of Odisha, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Goa, to over 140 million tonne (mnt) at the end of March (estimated tally). This, even when NMDC, the largest iron ore miner in India, missed its FY16 guidance by about 7 million tonnes. Further, at a time when ore production is on an upswing, dull dispatches across states are worrying mining companies. The country's ore production moved up from 129 mnt in FY15 to 155 mnt in FY16. In 2016-17, it is expected to rise to around 180 mnt. Stockpiling also means further less demand for imported ore which reduced 62% (to about 5.6 mnt) in FY16 compared to FY15. At the same time, China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly contracted further in April, reviving worse fears over the health of the country’s economy. China is the world’s biggest buyer for iron ore and the recent estimates point out increasing stockpile in the country which climbed to over 98 mnt at the end of April, the highest in more than a year, according to Shanghai Steelhome Information Technology Co. Recently in early May, prices fell sharply by ~ 9% from their April 21st highs (to about $62). The market watchers fear the weak numbers stemming out of very soft demand in China will strongly affect the world seaborne iron ore trade. The global iron ore production is governed by Brazil’s Vale and Australia’s Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton & Fortescue Metal Group (FMG). At 1400 million tonne, the seaborne iron ore supply was surplus in 2015; and while the giants have moderated their output guidance for the year, considering the contracting demand from two of the world’s largest consumers, the oversupply situation is only expected to worsen in 2016. Read more from pg 26.

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