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High Court in London supports the right to publish FMG iron ore discounts

New York — The High Court of England and Wales in London on May 22 lifted an interim injunction on the reporting of Fortescue Metals Group's iron ore price discounts by price reporting agencies S&P Global Platts and Argus Media.

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In a concluding paragraph, Justice Miles said he was dismissing Fortescue's "application for a continuation of the interim restraining order" as "claimants have not established, as required by s.12 of the (Human Rights Act), that they are more likely than not to obtain a permanent injunction at trial."

"The Defendants submit that there is a public interest in the provision of information about the iron ore markets. They argue in summary as follows. The Claimants are the largest producers of lower grade iron ores and one of the four largest producers of iron ores in the world. This is a hugely important market. In contrast to the spot market, which constitutes about 15% of total iron ore markets, the [long term contract] market is comparatively opaque," Justice Miles said.

He said the iron ore market was of "enormous economic and strategic importance, second only to the oil markets."

"There is in my view an important and weighty public interest in the provision of well-informed analysis and data by publications such as those of the Defendants about the iron ore markets," he said.

S&P Global Inc. (SPGI), the owner of Platts -- on April 29 filed for an injunction in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York against a court order obtained by Fortescue and its wholly owned subsidiary Chichester in the High Court of England and Wales on April 24, which forbid SPGI to publish information on the Perth-based miner's iron ore price discounts. The data is generally considered relevant to market transparency.

In its January-March quarter operations report on April 30, FMG said its iron ore sales achieved an average of $72.69/dmt, which represented 82% of the Platts 62% CFR Index average price of $89.00/dmt CFR China in the quarter.