China iron ore imports hit record high in 2023 up 6.6% from last year


According to customs data released on Friday, China imports of ironore reached a record high in 2023, up 6.6% from the previous year. This increase was attributed to both higher-than-expected steel exports and stronger demand in the absence of government-mandated steel output caps.

Worldwide imports of ironore amounted to approximately 1.18 billion metric tonnes in the previous year, according to data released by the nation’s General Administration of Customs.

The 2023 total also represented the first increase since 2020 because Beijing placed a limit on its yearly steel production in 2021 and 2022 in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, which in turn decreased demand for the essential component used in steelmaking during those years.

China’s imports of iron ore decreased 1.5% and 3.9% annually in 2022 and 2021, respectively.

But in 2023, there were no restrictions on steel production, as the second-biggest economy in the world was still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, partly due to financial difficulties in the real estate industry.

According to official data, crude steel output increased 1.5% to 952.14 million tonnes in the first 11 months of 2023 compared to the same period in the previous year, supporting feedstock demand throughout the year.

China imported 100.86 million tonnes of iron ore in December, a decrease of 1.83% from November’s 102.74 million tonnes, as more mills began blast furnace maintenance as steel profit margins shrank.

In December 2022, 90.86 million tonnes were produce; this is a comparison to the December volume.

Steel Exports Surge: China’s Global Dominance

According to customs data, China’s steel exports reached a seven-year high of 90.26 million tonnes in December 2023, up 36.2% from the previous year. This exceeded market expectations. China’s exports of steel products increased 43.2% year over year to 7.73 million tonnes.

In addition, the biggest steel producer in the world imported 665,000 tonnes of steel products last month, bringing the total imports for 2023 to 7.65 million tons—a 27.6% decrease from 2022.