BEIJING (Reuters) - China's iron ore imports in July surged to a record, up 24% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Friday, driven by shipments from miners and resilient demand as the economy bounced back after disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.
Arrivals of the key steelmaking ingredient were 112.65 million tonnes last month, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. That is up 10.8% from 101.68 million tonnes in June and above the 91.2 million imported in July 2019.
Over the first seven months of the year, China brought in 659.6 million tonnes of iron ore, rising 11.8% from the same period last year, the customs data showed.
China iron ore imports https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/xlbpgbdxzvq/ChinaIronOreImportsthroughJul2020.png
"The jump in imports mainly came from non-mainstream suppliers as shipments from Brazil are still hurt by the pandemic," said Wu Shiping, analyst with Tianfeng Futures, adding that strong demand in China has also propped up purchases despite surging iron ore prices.
The most-active iron ore futures contract in China gained more than 14% last month.
Average capacity utilisation rates of blast furnaces at 163 mills in China, indicating input of the steelmaking ingredients, was at an average of 86% in July, dipping a bit from 86.4% in the previous month but still at a relatively high level, according to Reuters calculations based on data from Mysteel consultancy.
STEEL PRODUCTS TRADE
Data released by the customs office also showed China's steel imports were 2.61 million tonnes in July, the highest since April 2004.
Steel exports from China were 4.2 million tonnes last month, down 25% from July 2019.
(Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Simon Cameron-Moore)