China, the world’s largest iron ore consumer, imported iron ore in January-February of 2023, as buyers expected domestic steel demand to rise after the government lifted strict coronavirus containment measures.
China imported 194 million tonnes of steelmaking components in January and February, an annual increase of 7.3 per cent, the highest ever for the two months combined, according to calculations based on Reuter’s records of customs data.
Rather than signalling any material improvement in demand, the increased imports reflect the need for miners to ship goods to China whatever the weather, said Attila Widnell, managing director of Navigate Commodities in Singapore.
He added, “This is supported by the increase in iron ore stocks in the ports in the past two months”.
“The increase is in line with expectations”, said Bai Hao, senior analyst at FIS brokerage firm in Shanghai.
“Some miners shipped more volumes from mid-to-late December to keep up with annual targets, which appears to be well reflected in the January-February import figures”, Bai added.
He continued, “The volume of imports in March may be lower than the average for January and February, but an increase is also expected yearly.”