Iron Surges After Vale Mining Disaster
Prices of iron ore surged on Monday after a Vale SA dam burst in southeast Brazil, leaving at least 60 people dead and hundreds missing and plunging the world’s largest producer into a crisis.
Iron-ore futures rose 5.4% to $78.59 a metric ton, with some analysts anticipating that the Friday dam collapse could lead to lower production of iron ore, the main ingredient in steel.
Vale shares tumbled 16% to $11.50 per American depositary share Monday after the company suspended dividend payments and share buybacks, froze executive bonuses and created committees to help victims and investigate the incident, which released mining waste and flooded a rural Brazilian town with reddish-brown mud.
“The fatal accident will likely lead to a prolonged closure of the mine, ” ING analysts said in a note to clients.
The disaster came less than four years after the failure of a dam joint-owned by Vale and BHP Group killed 19 people.
The prospect of lower supply could lift prices with analysts projecting consumption of a range of industrial materials to fall as economic growth in China, the world’s largest commodities consumer, slows this year.
In base metals, most-active copper futures for March delivery fell 1.3% to $2.6925 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, hurt by anxiety about slowing global growth and falling commodity demand.
On the London Metal Exchange, aluminum for delivery in three months fell 2% to $1,882.50 a metric ton. Zinc was unchanged at $2,673, tin added less than 0.1% to $20,690, nickel fell 0.6% to $11,890 and lead shed 0.7% to $2,095.
Among precious metals, most-active Comex gold futures wobbled between small gains and losses and were recently up 0.3% at $1,301.70 a troy ounce. Prices have hit their highest level since June, boosted by stock-market volatility and safe-haven demand.
Most-active silver futures added 0.1% to $15.715, platinum eased 0.5% to $814.30 and palladium fell 1.5% to $1,300.20.