China's June iron ore imports hit 13-month low on fewer cargoes

FILE PHOTO: A man walks by an iron ore blending site at Dalian Port, Liaoning province, China September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Muyu Xu

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s iron ore imports fell for a third straight month in June to their lowest in 13 months, official customs data showed on Tuesday, as arrivals of the key steelmaking ingredient missed market expectations.

The world’s top iron ore consumer imported 89.42 million tonnes of the material last month, down 0.4% from May, data from the General Administration showed. The iron ore imports were down 12.1% from June a year earlier.

In the first half of 2021, China took 560.7 million tonnes of the ingredient, though, 2.6% higher than the same period a year earlier, according to the customs data.

Robust steel production and strong profits at mills had fuelled iron ore demand in China for the first half of the year, also sending prices for the raw material to all-time highs.

The value of imported iron ore surged 71.7% on an annual basis during the January-June period.

“As we enter the second half of the year, all eyes will be on the extent to which Chinese demand slows and Brazilian supply grows,” said Rohan Kendall, head of iron ore research with Wood Mackenzie, before the data was released.

Wood Mackenzie has adjusted their iron ore price forecast to $185 per tonne CFR in the third quarter compared with $200 a tonne for the second quarter.

The customs data on Tuesday also showed that China’s steel products exports jumped 22.5% from a month earlier to 6.46 million tonnes in June, while imports were up 2.5% to 1.25 million tonnes.

For the first half of the year, China exported 37.38 million tonnes of steel and took in 7.35 million tonnes from overseas markets, according to the customs data.

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