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West Africa Seen Driving Growth as Ore and Coal Exports Double

Higher exports of iron ore from West Africa will help world shipments of the steelmaking raw material and coal to about double by 2017, DNB Bank ASA said.

Total African ore deliveries will almost quadruple from last year, the Oslo-based bank said in a report e-mailed today. Projects in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cameroon will drive increases, it said. Global exports of ore and coal will be 3.48 billion metric tons in 2017, compared with 1.76 billion tons last year, according to the report.

Production at the Simandou project in Guinea is on course to begin in 2015, according to Rio Tinto Group. Ports and a terminal scheduled to start operating in 2016 and the following year in the country, Cameroon and Sierra Leone will have combined annual capacity of 140 million tons, DNB said.

“Being dubbed ‘the new Pilbara,’ the region is by many considered to be the most important growth region for iron ore in the world,” the bank said of West Africa. It was referring to the area in Western Australia where Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Ltd. have ore mines.

Africa will deliver 238 million tons of iron ore in 2017, against 66 million tons last year, DNB said. That compares with projections for exports to almost double to 918 million tons in Australia, the biggest global shipper, and jump more than twofold to 666 million tons in second-ranking Brazil.

Slowing Pace

The estimates imply 12 percent average annual growth in global exports of ore and coal for the period, slower than the 49 percent yearly pace for the 2005-11 span, according to DNB. The bank based its study on figures from more than 100 ports and terminals representing 88 percent of global trade.

World iron-ore shipments will increase to 2.04 billion tons in 2017 from 984 million tons last year, climbing 13 percent a year on average, the report showed. Australia will account for 43 percent of planned additional shipping capacity at ports, compared with 33 percent for Brazil and 18 percent for Africa.

Total ore deliveries will expand 16 percent next year, quadruple the estimated 2012 growth rate, to 1.18 billion tons, DNB said.

Global coal exports will climb 85 percent to 1.43 billion tons in 2017 from 771 million tons last year, implying 11 percent average annual growth, according to the report. About 48 percent of new port capacity will be added in Australia, the biggest overall shipper and the leader for the variety of the commodity used to make steel, DNB said.

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