* August iron ore imports at 110.36 mln T vs 112.65 mln T in July
* January-August imports up 11% y/y
* Arrivals dropped on falling supplies, port congestion - analyst (Adds details, analyst comments)
BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Sept 7 (Reuters) - China’s iron ore imports in August fell 10.9% from a month earlier, easing from a record high in July on fewer shipments from big miners and port congestion, official customs data showed on Monday.
The world’s top iron ore consumer brought in 100.36 million tonnes of iron ore last month, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. That was down from 112.65 million tonnes in July and up 5.8% from the same period a year earlier.
“Iron ore imports in China were partly delayed last month due to coronavirus-related restrictions,” said Tang Binghua, analyst with Founder CIFCO Futures, noting that port congestion in China was heavy last month and slowed customs clearance.
Shipments from big miners in July also dipped after the end of the financial year in Australia, Tang added.
However, imports rose from a year earlier on resilient demand for steel.
Capacity utilisation rates at 163 Chinese steel mills tracked by the Mysteel consultancy was at 86.21% at the end of August, up from 84.96% a year earlier.
The utilisation rate rose to meet demand for steel in the manufacturing sector while mills also ramped up output on expectations of rising consumption as the construction season entered its peak.
In the first eight months of 2020, China imported 759.91 million tonnes of iron ore, rising 11% from the January-August period in 2019, according to the customs data.
The customs data on Monday also showed China’s steel exports at 3.68 million tonnes in August, down from 4.2 million in July and down from 5.01 million in August 2019.
Steel products imports last month declined to 2.24 million tonnes from 2.61 million in July as global demand gradually recovered after the pandemic. Imports rose from 970,000 tonnes in August 2019.
Reporting by Min Zhang in Beijing and Emily Chow in Shanghai; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christian Schmollinger
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