LKAB deliveries drop, foresees increased costs, operational disruptions

Iron ore prices remain at high levels despite their decrease in the first half of 2023, but uncertainty remains over global economic development, says LKAB. The miner is seeing a general increase in costs of energy, inputs, materials and services, while works on the Ore Railway during summer could continue to limit production and delivery capacity.

LKAB’s iron ore deliveries fell 6% on-year in the second quarter to 5.8 million tonnes, with an 81% proportion of pellet versus 82% a year earlier, Kallanish notes.

Iron ore production was down 7% to 5.3mt, affected by scheduled maintenance shutdowns, production disruptions and a shortage of crushed ore in Kiruna.

The average global spot price for iron ore products in Q2 was lower than in the same period last year, at $111/tonne versus $138/t a year earlier. This was also down $14/t on Q1. Quoted pellet premiums for the quarter were $30/t lower on-year.

Net sales plummeted 24% in Q2 to SEK 9.35 billion ($862.6 million) and net income was down 28% to SEK 3.05 billion. Earnings were impacted by lower prices for highly upgraded iron ore products and lower delivery volumes. They were also affected by higher prices for energy and other inputs, which accounted for 25% of increased costs, as well as lengthy scheduled maintenance shutdowns, measures to secure production capacity and increased exploration.

Production in Kiruna was limited by difficulties in transporting crushed ore from other mines. During the summer, extensive maintenance work was also carried out on the Ore Railway, further reducing transport capacity. Mining in Svappavaara, therefore, had to be curtailed during the summer.

The tribunal at the European Court of Justice has meanwhile delivered its judgment in the case concerning LKAB’s exclusion from the benchmark for sintered ore in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). The Court found that the European Commission was not in error in rejecting LKAB’s inclusion in the benchmark, according to the provisions of the ETS directive that were applicable at the time. LKAB is analysing the verdict and considering whether there are grounds for appeal, the miner concludes.

Adam Smith Poland