China iron ore output up 13% m-o-m in May on warmer weather, price rise

China’s domestic iron ore output continued to fall on a yearly basis in May, with volumes down 10% as miners produced less material amid an oversupplied market.

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The country’s run-of-mine (ROM) output in May totalled 118 million tonnes, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday June 15.

The rate of decline was slower than April’s year-on-year fall of 13%, but volumes for the first five months of the year were still down 11% from year-earlier levels at 502 million tonnes.

However, production was up 13% month-on-month as miners in the north of the country resumed production due to warmer weather, chairman Yang Jiasheng of the presidium of the Metallurgical Mines Assn of China (MMAC) told Steel First.

Strengthening domestic prices have also prompted mills to increase output, he added.

In Tangshan in northern China’s Hebei province, prices for 66% Fe concentrate were at 610-620 yuan ($99-101) per dry tonne on Tuesday June 16, flat with a week ago, but up more than 10% since the end of April.

Prices are inclusive of VAT.

“Demand is not bad from steelmakers and we have largely been running out of stock,” a Tangshan-based concentrate producer told Steel First.

“Prices may move up, but probably only by 10-20 yuan ($2-3) per tonne, because mills are suffering from dropping steel prices with high raw material costs,” he said.

Metal Bulletin’s index for 62% Fe iron ore rose by $5.67 or 10% in May, ending the month at $61.85 per tonne cfr China. However, prices are still down by 13% from the beginning of the year.

In May, China’s pig iron output stood at 60.96 million tonnes, a decrease of 2% on the year according to NBS data.