Chinese demand for iron ore is higher than ever

Vegetables are getting pricey in China. Picture: Getty Images

China’s insatiable demand for raw materials showed no signs of ebbing in July, particularly when it came to iron ore and crude oil.

According to imports data released by the nation’s General Administration of Customs, iron ore demand rebounded strongly in July, jumping 8.3% to 88.4 million tonnes.

Though only 2.7% higher than the levels seen in July last year, in cumulative terms, Chinese iron ore imports over the past year swelled to 996 million tonne, the highest 12-month total on record.

Nearly one billion tonnes in just 12 months — that’s a lot of ore. A large proportion of that total came from Port Hedland in Australia, the world’s largest iron ore loading terminal.

Much like the rebound seen in iron ore imports, demand for crude oil also picked up, with imports rising by 1.5% to 31.07 million tonne in July.

While well below the record high of 33.185 million tonnes imported in December last year, it was still 1.2% higher than the amount imported in July last year.

In cumulative terms, China imported 359 million tonnes of crude in the past 12 months, the largest total on record. It was 9.9% higher than the amount imported in the year to July 2015.

Outside of crude and iron ore, the news elsewhere was mixed.

Coal imports totaled 21.21 million tonnes, down from 21.75 million tonnes in June, while copper imports also softened, dropping to 360,000 tonnes from 420,000 tonnes previously.

Soybean import volumes bucked the trend, rising to 7.76 million tonnes from 7.56 million tonnes in June.

When looking at export volumes, it’s worthwhile remembering that they are impacted by the number of days in each month, with July containing one extra day compared to June.

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