|SYDNEY -- Australia's output of iron ore is on pace for the first decline in two decades, driven by the Chinese slowdown and a run of bad luck at home, and this decrease threatens to end the country's record economic expansion.
BHP, the nation's second-largest producer of iron ore, said Wednesday that its output slid 2% for the full year through June, the first drop since 2002. This follows Tuesday's projection by Rio Tinto, the biggest domestic producer, of annual shipments falling by up to 5%, the first dip for Rio since tracking of comparable data began in 2001.
The dwindling performance by the biggest players has led to government estimates of nationwide production retreating 1% to 890 million tons for the fiscal year ended in June. This marks Australia's first output decline based on data going back to fiscal 1999.
Rio illustrates the severity of the industry's condition. The miner shipped 85.4 million tons during the quarter ended in June, down 3% on the year. Rio expects to ship between 320 million tons and 330 million tons for the full year through December, a decrease of 2% to 5%.
Third-place Fortescue Metals Group forecasts a maximum downturn of 3% to 165 million tons for the year ended in June. The company presents its annual report on July 25. Together with Rio and BHP, the three leaders produce over 80% of Australia's iron ore.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review