China's January iron ore imports 2nd highest on record

10 February 2017

China's iron ore imports rose 12 percent in January from a year earlier to the second highest on record, official data showed on Friday, as steel mills replenished stocks and seaborne supply continued to displace higher-cost production at home.

Arrivals reached 92.0 million tonnes, up from 82.19 million a year ago and 88.95 million tonnes in December, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

China's vow last month to shut low-grade steel producers which use scrap metal by the end of June should help boost demand for iron ore.

"A lot of this has ... replaced the marginal producers in China because China's iron ore mining has been very low because of seasonality," Helen Lau, analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

"We will not be surprised if this continues into February, with the number above 90 mln tonnes."

China's iron ore stocks at ports hit a record high last week SH-TOT-IRONINV. Iron ore prices are trading just shy of three-year highs hit in January.

Imports of steel products fell 8.4 percent to 1.09 million tonnes while exports fell 4.9 percent to 7.42 million tonnes.