Brazilian exports of iron ore from January through May were down 19% in value from the same period last year, according to a report from Sao Paulo based newspaper Folha on Thursday.
It was the first time Brazilian iron ore exports had fallen since 2002, and the decline caused large mining company Vale to lose its position as Brazil's top exporter to state-owned petroleum company Petrobras.
Iron ore exports from Latin America's largest economy have been hurt by weak demand in China, the largest consumer of Brazilian materials, and heavy rains that disrupted work at Brazilian mines earlier this year.
With China's economy slowing in the face of a gloomy world economic outlook, the price of iron ore has fallen 21% in the last 12 months, reported Folha.
According to the report, China accounts for 60% of the world market for iron ore.
But after a difficult first half, exports are expected to rebound in the second half of 2012 with Chinese industrial output responding to government stimulus.
Already, government measures in China have contributed to a 5% increase in the price of iron ore over the last nine days.