Iron ore ascends to record high


Global iron ore prices have reached their highest prices ever, rising to $US194.50 ($250.80) per tonne on April 28.

The spot price for iron ore has risen 21 per cent since the start of the year and 130 per cent in the past month.

Wednesday’s price outdid the previous record high of $US187 per tonne from February 2011.

Australia’s Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the country’s iron ore production was a key contributor to the nation’s economy.

“Australia’s resources sector and exports have underpinned our continued economic growth throughout the COVID-19 downturn,” Pitt said.

“It accounts for around 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP and directly employs around 262,000 Australian men and women, mostly in regional areas, and supports more than a million other jobs.

“Iron ore remains our single largest commodity export and it is forecast to earn Australia around $700 billion from this financial year to 2025-26. Iron ore supports 45,600 direct Australian jobs.”

Pitt said higher iron prices were being lifted by Chinese steel production and iron ore supply shortages in Brazil.

Chinese steel production reached a record high of 94 million tonnes in March, increasing by 19.1 per cent in the past year.

Copper has also approached its $US10,000 per tonne level this week.

The commodity’s London Metal Exchange price closed at $US9898.50 per tonne on Tuesday.

In April, Goldman Sachs stated in its report that “copper is the new oil”, with the company expecting the red metal to average $US9675 per tonne in 2021.

Goldman Sachs also expects copper to reach $US15,000 per tonne in 2025.

Meanwhile, scientists from the University of Houston have discovered that bacteria found in copper mines is capable of transforming copper ions into single-atom copper.

This usually requires a chemical treatment, however the study has found that it also occurs naturally.

“The novelty of this discovery is that microbes in the environment can easily transform copper sulfate into zero valent single atom copper,” University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, Ezekiel Cullen professor of engineering, Debora Rodrigues said.

“This is a breakthrough because the current synthetic process of single atom zero valent copper is typically not clean, it is labor intensive and expensive.”

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