China just went on an iron ore buying binge

Andrew Forrest. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

China went on an iron ore buying binge in September, importing more of the red stuff than ever before.

According to China’s General Administration of Customs, imports jumped 16.2% to 103 million tonnes, surpassing the previous record peak of 96.3 million tonnes set in November 2015.

As a result of the buying frenzy, it left total iron ore imports over the year at 1.0791 billion tonnes.

Yes, that billion with a “B”.

That too was a record high.


The massive increase helps explain why iron ore prices have come under pressure recently, falling 25% from the levels seen in late August, according to data from Metal Bulletin.

Indeed, iron ore port inventories climbed back towards record highs in late September, according to data from Shanghai Steelhome, reversing the trend seen between June and August.

Curiously, the record also came ahead of pending steel production cuts in China aimed at improving air quality during winter months, something that will reduce demand for iron ore over this period.

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