Sunday, February 5

China’s Jan-Feb iron ore imports steady from year earlier, but at lower costs

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BEIJING — China’s iron ore imports in the first two months of 2022 were almost flat from the same period a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

The world’s top iron ore consumer brought in 181.1 million tonnes of the steelmaking ingredient in January-February, compared with imports of 181.5 million tonnes in the first two months of 2021.

Customs combines data for January and February due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in early February this year.

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Iron ore shipments from China’s two biggest suppliers Australia and Brazil came in at 151.6 million tonnes in the first two months, Refinitiv shipping data showed.

The value of iron ore imports in the past two months, however, plunged 36.1% on an annual basis, according to the customs release.

“That came as China stepped up price controls since the third quarter last year while demand of the raw material also eased,” said Wang Yingwu, analyst with Huatai Futures in Beijing.

China’s state planner had rolled out a raft of measures in the past few weeks after iron ore prices jumped more than 20% from the end of 2021, urging market participants to avoid speculation and asking traders to reduce stockpiles at ports.

Wang Yingwu expects the destocking of portside inventories could reduce some iron ore imports in the short term, while arrivals in March are also seen to decline based on shipping data.

Inventories of iron ore at Chinese ports stood at 158.9 million tonnes as of March 4, down for two straight weeks, data from SteelHome consultancy showed.

The Monday data also showed China’s steel products exports fell 18.8% to 8.23 ​​million tonnes in the first two months.

Steel imports also fell, by 7.9% to 2.21 million tonnes in January-February from a year earlier. (Reporting by Min Zhang and Dominique Patton; Editing by Christopher Cushing)