BEIJING — China’s iron ore imports in August rose for the first time in five months, increasing 10.1% over July, although demand remained lackluster amid Beijing’s steel output controls.
The world’s biggest iron ore consumer brought in 97.49 million tonnes of the steelmaking ingredient last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
That compared with 88.51 million tonnes imported in July. Volumes were down 2.9% from 100.36 million tonnes in August last year.
In the first eight months of the year, China imported 746 million tonnes of iron ore, down 1.7% from the same period a year ago, according to the customs office.
Output curbs at steel plants in China to lower carbon emissions and reduce pollutants have dented iron ore consumption and increased inventories at ports.
“It’s unsurprising to see a rebound in China’s iron ore imports, given the impressive recovery in Brazilian run rates (at mines) over the past eight weeks,” said Atilla Widnell, managing director at Singapore-based Navigate Commodities.
“Larger iron ore arrivals have resulted in the expansion of port inventories above 131 million tonnes, due to the government-mandated reduction in steel output capping iron ore consumption.”
Benchmark iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 1.1% by close of morning trade, recovering slightly from early losses that brought it to a 7-month low on rising portside stocks and weak demand.
The customs data also showed that China’s steel exports fell 10.9% from a month earlier to 5.05 million tonnes in August.
From Aug. 1, to ensure domestic steel supply, China raised export tariffs for pig iron and ferrochrome, and canceled export tax rebates for some steel products.
China’s steel imports stood at 1.06 million tonnes last month, increasing slightly from 1.05 million tonnes in July, according to the customs. (Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Tom Hogue & Shri Navaratnam)