The Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price hit as 52-week high of $89.65 this morning on the back of an iron ore price that has surged all week to above US$77 per tonne after another tragic iron ore mining accident in Brazil that has caused the deaths of at least 63 people.
It’s possible that iron ore supply out of Brazil may fall as a result of the accident after the Brazilian government moves to impose extra regulation on the industry, sanctions, and potentially criminal prosecutions against Vale S.A. and its executives.
Rio Tinto boasts it operates the world’s largest integrated iron ore mines in Western Australia’s Pilbara and as such is unlikely to be affected by the accident in Brazil, other than being a potential beneficiary of rising iron ore prices if supply out of Brazil is hit.
Rio Tinto has also been in the news recently via its claims it’s building the most technologically advanced iron ore mines in the world in the Pilbara that use self-driving trains and robots for transportation across outback WA.
This has helped the iron ore miner derive world-leading margins as it also reportedly has some of the highest grade iron ore going.
One fly in the ointment for Rio and other Australian miners like BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) is China’s growth slowdown on the back of a trade war with the U.S.
In fact China recently reported its slowest GDP growth since 1990, but it still came in at 6% which is a rate other national economies cannot get close to.
It’s also worth noting that while the Rio Tinto share price is at a 52-week high today, it’s still a long way below pre-GFC mining super-cycle prices above $130 in 2008. As such investors should be aware that mining stocks tend to be cyclical in nature.