As we forecast late last year, China’s iron ore imports hit a record high of 1.17 billion tonnes in 2020, capping the year with a solid performance in December.
The 9.5% rise over the year was more than expected at the start of 2020 and in June when it looked like the impact of the pandemic would see inbound shipments ease as steel demand cooled.
But China’s central government beefed up spending on infrastructure to drive a recovery in the economy as demand for steel (Rebar especially) surged.
China’s imports of 1.17 billion tonnes of iron ore beat 2019’s 1.069 billion tonnes and the previous record of 1.075 billion tonnes in 2017.
That increased appetite for iron ore imports came despite a sharp rise in prices over the year. The price of 62% Fe fines delivered to northern China rose 70% in 2020 to a peak of more than $US176 a tonne.
They were around $US170 a tonne on Wednesday.
A combination of lower-than-expected supplies from Brazil and supply constraints in the Pilbara helped push up prices which coincided with the surge in demand for steel inside China.
China will report record crude steel output of more than one billion tonnes early next week.
China’s December imports of ore totalled 96.75 million tonnes were down 1.4% from November and 4.5% lower than December 2019.
China’s steel products exports fell 16.5% to 53.67 million tonnes in 2020 from a year ago, the customs data showed as the tariffs from the US and several other countries continued to bite.
Steel imports, meanwhile, jumped 64.4% to 20.23 million tonnes last year which is a bump compared to the record steel production.
Pilbara Ports Authority figures show that iron ore exports through Port Hedland to China rose 7.1% at 467.937 million tonnes from 436.720 million tonnes in 2019. That was a smaller rise than the 9.5% rise in overall imports into China.
Port Hedland’s share of total imports dipped to 40% from 40.7% in 2019.
Source : https://www.sharecafe.com.