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Fatal Landslide in Brazil Pushes Iron Ore Toward Record

Prices of the steel ingredient near all-time high as investors bet on tightening supply at a time of strong demand.

Iron-ore prices are teetering near record territory as a landslide at a Brazilian iron-ore mine intensifies concerns about supply and Chinese demand runs hot.

The price of iron ore has soared to its highest level since September 2011, almost doubling its value at the start of the year, according to data from S&P Global Platts. The commodity jumped by 7.8% to $176.90 a metric ton Monday, although pulled back by 5.6% to $167.00 a ton on Tuesday.

Iron ore, the main ingredient in steel, is one of the world’s most-traded commodities and is among the best performing assets of 2020. Up more than 40% since the start of November, it is closing in on a record price of $193 a ton reached in February 2011.

The landslide last week at Vale SA’s Córrego do Feijão mine, which killed one worker, has raised fresh concerns about supplies from Brazil. Shipments from that country—the second biggest exporter of iron ore, after Australia—have yet to fully recover from earlier waste-dam collapses and pandemic-related disruptions to port and rail facilities.

The city of Brumadinho, in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, where the Córrego do Feijão mine is located, has suspended Vale’s operating license for seven days, Vale said. It is the same part of Brazil where a dam burst in 2019, killing 270 people.

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