Australian resource firms are affected by a sharp increase in shipping rates for commodity exports from their Australian and African mining and processing operations, resulting from port congestion, delays and vessel shortages.
The increased shipping rates have hit firms exporting copper concentrate from the Western Australian ports of Geraldton and Port Hedland, and mineral sands from Mombasa in Kenya. Other firms exporting manganese from Australia and South Africa have had to change their shipping programmes or seen reduced profits because of the increased shipping costs.
"Freight rates for a 55,000t vessel shipping ilmenite to China were $28/t a year ago and are now around $90/t," Base Resources' chief executive Tim Carstens said at a mining conference in Perth last week. Perth-based Base Resources owns the Kwale mineral sands project in Kenya, and exports zircon and rutile from Mombasa.
Freight rates for Perth-based Sandfire Resources' copper concentrate exports to Asia and Europe have also increased, but the financial impact was less than for lower value, higher bulk commodities, Sandfire's chief executive Karl Simich said.
Sandfire exported a record 23,274 wet metric tons (wmt) worth A$64.5mn ($47mn) to India in June and 23,000wmt worth A$52mn to Europe in December last year. These are higher-value tonnages than many large iron ore shipments.
The Baltic Dry Index, the benchmark measure for global commodity shipping costs, hit an 11-year high of 4,235 on 27 August....
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