May 10 (Bloomberg) -- Steelmakers, paying 90 percent more for iron ore, have to raise prices to pass on the higher raw material costs, the World Steel Association said.
The move by iron ore exporters this year to abandon a 40- year custom of setting annual prices in favor of quarterly contracts is a "very negative trend,"Chairman Paolo Rocca said in an interview in Beijing. The change and the higher costs that entails "will affect our customers,"he said.
The association last month called on authorities globally to examine the iron ore market after Brazil's Vale SA won a 90 percent price increase from Japanese mills for quarterly contracts started April 1. Posco, Asia's third-biggest steelmaker, raised May prices for its products by as much as 25 percent because of escalating costs.
"We have no alternative but to transfer the increase in costs to the market,"Rocca said yesterday. Quarterly ore pricing "will put our industry less competitive against the aluminum and raw material industries. This will affect our industry."
Vale, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group account for about two thirds of the globally traded iron ore market, worth $200 billion a year, according to an estimate by Credit Suisse Group. China last month said it was investigating the possibility that the three companies may be monopolizing supplies of the steelmaking ingredient.
Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the second and third-largest exporters of the material, are also proposing to combine their operations in Australia into a 50-50 joint venture to save at least $10 billion. The proposal is under review by competition authorities in Europe, Australia, South Korea and China.
The combination will "severely hamper our steel industry as this will create excess concentration,"Rocca said.
The 180-member steel group includes 19 of the top 20 steelmakers and makes up 85 percent of global output.