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The volume capped another record year, bringing 2012’s total to 743.55 million tonnes, an 8.4% increase from 2011.
December arrivals from Australia, the largest supplier, rose 1% from November to a new high of 33.67 million tonnes, according to the latest Chinese customs data.
Shipments from Brazil, which is China’s second-largest supplier, jumped 42.2% month-on-month to a record 20.02 million tonnes.
Imports from South Africa came in third during the month at 2.77 million tonnes, down 27.6% from November.
Market participants believe that several large iron ore traders had imported more of the steelmaking raw material in December on expectations of a further rise in prices.
Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index jumped by 26% over the month to $146.85 per tonne cfr on December 31.
Iron ore imports in December
70.94 million tonnes
Up 7.8% month-on-month
Up 11% year-on-year
Top iron ore suppliers in December
(million tonnes, month-on-month change)
Australia: 33.67, 1%
Brazil: 20.02, 42.2%
South Africa: 2.77, -27.6%
Iran: 1.87, 4.3%
Ukraine: 1.67, 17.6%
Canada: 1.26, -41.7%
Russia: 0.95, -23.1%
Malaysia: 0.83, 7.3%
Indonesia: 0.76, 75.9%
Mexico: 0.73, 58.6%
Source: Chinese customs
China’s iron ore imports hit a historical high of 70.94 million tonnes in December, when Australia and Brazil made record deliveries.