Demand for iron ore is expected to rebound in the coming years, a development that could lead to more investment in equipment monitoring software.
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that prices for iron ore and coking coal used in steel production are expected to remain steady or even rise in 2014, MetalMiner reported. Iron prices have remained solid through 2013, providing an impetus for mining companies to keep up with predictive maintenance tasks and maintain production. Previously, analysts had anticipated that iron prices would fall due to overcapacity in steel production, an economic downturn in China and other factors.
A supply shortfall of iron is expected to mark the beginning of 2014, but increases in production in the later part of the year will likely drive prices lower for steel manufacturers. Companies are expected to expand their operations in ore-rich areas where machine maintenance software and condition monitoring solutions could play a factor in keeping productivity high.
"Even in the second half, when mine expansion in Brazil and Australia is expected to add to the supply, the expected price is $120 a ton," MetalMiner contributor Sohrab Darabshaw wrote. "In November, ore price had touched US$137 a ton, climbing to a two-month high on accelerated buying by China."
In North America, productivity dropped among Minnesota's taconite iron ore producers for 2013, but is expected to pick up again next year. About 38.9 million tons of the ore will likely be shipped out of the state by the end of the year, down from 39.7 million tons last year, according to The Duluth News Tribune. Equipment monitoring can help bring output back in line, particularly after two idled production lines at Cliffs Natural Resources' Northshore Mining Facility return to service.