China’s insatiable demand for iron ore continued unabated in March.
The chart below tells the story.
According to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics earlier today, Chinese iron ore imports totaled 95.56 million tonnes in March, the second largest monthly total on record.
Over the year, that left imports at 1.054 billion tonnes, the largest 12-month total on record. It was also 8.9% higher than the total imported in the 12 months to March 2016.
The veracious appetite for iron ore has contributed to Chinese port inventories ballooning to 131.35 million tonnes, according to data provided by Shanghai Steelhome, just shy of the all-time record peak of 132.45 million tonnes seen in late March.
It’s also been a factor, along with increased Chinese steel production and high steel prices, that has contributed to a recent sharp selloff in iron ore spot and futures markets in recent weeks, sapping demand for both steel and its raw ingredients.
On Wednesday, the spot price for benchmark 62% fines plummeted 8.5% to $68.04 a tonne, according to Metal Bulletin, leaving it at the lowest level since November 7 last year.
It was the largest percentage decline since March 9, 2016.
Underlining the scale of the recent selloff, the benchmark price has fallen 16.6% in just five days, extending the decline from the multi-year high of $94.86 a tonne struck on February 21 to 28.3%.