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May 8, 2024

China’s Iron Ore Imports Expected to Hold Steady at 1.17-1.18 Billion Metric Tons in 2024: Vale Official

China, the world’s largest importer of iron ore, is anticipated to maintain its import levels at around 1.170 to 1.180 billion metric tons in 2024, similar to the previous year’s figures, according to a senior official from Brazilian mining giant Vale.

Eduardo Mello Franco, Vale’s marketing manager for pricing, revealed this projection during an industry conference in Singapore, emphasizing the resilience of the Chinese economy in the near term despite a slowdown in the property market. He noted that infrastructure development and manufacturing activities continue to drive demand in China.

Customs data showed that China’s iron ore imports for the first quarter of 2024 reached 310.13 million tons, marking a 5.5 percent increase from the previous year. However, the country’s domestic crude steel production saw a slight decline of 1.9 percent year-on-year, totaling 256.55 million tons in the same period.

China’s economy exhibited faster-than-expected growth in the first quarter, providing some relief to officials grappling with challenges such as weakness in the property sector and mounting local government debt.

On a global scale, Franco forecasted that world steel production would rise to 2.070 billion metric tons by 2030, up from an expected 1.9 billion tons. He highlighted the potential growth in emerging regions such as the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia, which are expected to contribute significantly to steel demand in the coming years.

Franco also pointed out that the energy transition is playing a crucial role in driving steel demand. “We also have new drivers to push growth of steel production. For new drivers, we have to mention energy transition, (which) will require materials and steel will be a very important material in this transition.”

The emphasis on energy transition reflects the increasing demand for materials like steel in renewable energy infrastructure, transportation, and other sectors aiming to reduce carbon emissions.

As China and other economies focus on transitioning to cleaner energy sources, the demand for steel is expected to remain robust, supported by ongoing infrastructure projects and manufacturing activities. This steady demand is likely to maintain China’s role as a major importer of iron ore in the global market throughout 2024 and beyond.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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