Chinese iron ore imports rose to a record-high in December, suggesting that demand from the world’s largest consumer remains robust.
According to Chinese customs data, imports totalled 96.27 million tonnes in December, blowing away the previous record high of 86.83 million tonnes set in January 2014.
The enormous increase coincided with signs of continued inventory restocking at Chinese ports.
As a result of the strong lift in December, total iron ore imports in 2015 soared to 953.36 million tonnes, also a record high.
While demand from China remains firm, the uplift has been unable offset increased seaborne supply from the likes of Australia and Brazil, leading to a substantial decline in the price for benchmark ore last year.
Falling crude steel output in China, along with a slower-than-expected shuttering of high cost iron ore mines in China, also contributed to the sharp price decline.
As this chart from the Steel Index reveals, it was another ugly year for the iron ore price in 2015 with the spot price falling to a record-low level in December.
Analysts from ANZ suggest the price will likely retest these lows in the weeks ahead, warning that risks for a break even lower are growing.