SHANGHAI, June 1 -- Vale SA, the world's biggest exporter of iron ore, said its market share in China may drop this year as it expands shipments to other countries.
Shipments to the world's biggest buyer may be about 140 million metric tons this year, similar to 2009, Jose Carlos Martins, the company's executive director of iron ore, told reporters today in Shanghai.
Global steel consumption will surpass a 2007 record this year, rising 10.7 percent from a year ago as the world economy recovers, according to the World Steel Association. Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. compete with Vale as the world's second- and third-largest iron ore exporters.
"A lot of other markets are growing very fast," Martins said. "There is a lot of competition between the volume we sell to China and the volume we sell to other markets."
Iron ore imports by China soared 42 percent last year to a record 628 million tons. Purchases totaled about 210.3 million tons in the first four months, according to customs data.
Prices for iron ore to be sold in the July quarter will be based on average index prices in the March to May period, Martins said, declining to provide a specific figure. Vale is open to customers basing the price on indexes other than Platts, he said.
Talks on July prices with customers have started, he said.
Other than Platts, the Steel Index and Metal Bulletin also publish spot price index for iron ore. Vale, BHP and Rio this year abandoned a 40-year tradition of setting prices annually in favor of quarterly contracts, with the Brazilian mill winning a 90 percent increase for the April period.
Vale doesn't want to change from quarterly pricing, Martins said. There's a possibility Chinese steelmakers may default on quarterly contracts should spot prices drop below the agreed prices, he said, without saying what Vale would do then.
The average spot price of iron ore imports into China from March 1 to May 28 was about $164.38 a ton, according to Metal Bulletin. Prices closed at $149 a ton on May 28.