China’s December iron ore imports hit record high

China imported 70.94 million tonnes of iron ore in December, marking a new historical high.

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The latest monthly arrivals represent a 7.8% increase from November, according to preliminary customs data released on Thursday January 10.

“The high imports coincided with the jump in iron ore prices, and reflected steel mills’ high production rate,” a trader in Beijing said.

“It also confirmed that [China Iron & Steel Assn]’s estimate of a drop in crude steel production in December was inaccurate,” he added.

Cisa’s estimates showed that the average daily crude steel output in December stood at 1.918 million tonnes, which is 2% lower than November’s.

“Reduced production from domestic iron ore mines due to the seasonal reasons, and the restart of infrastructure projects after the 18th Communist Party congress also pushed up demand for imported ore,” an industry analyst in Shanghai said.

Total imports for 2012 reached 743.55 million tonnes, up 8.4% on an annual basis.

Metal Bulletin 62% Fe Iron Ore Index jumped by 26% over the month to $146.85 per tonne cfr on December 31.