BEIJING (Reuters) - Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE3.SA) expects iron ore shipments to China to rise in 2020 versus 2019 due to falling demand in other countries hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, the China Iron and Steel Association said after a telephone call with the miner.
Vale, which shipped 190 million tonnes of iron ore and pellets to China in 2019, gave no further details.
While steel mills in other countries have idled blast furnaces due to sluggish demand, steel production in China, the world’s top steelmaker, has been robust, fuelled by healthy profit margins and government stimulus measures.
Iron ore stockpiles at China’s ports plunged to 109.5 million tonnes as of May 29, the lowest level since November 2016, according to data compiled by SteelHome consultancy.
Research from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said China’s overall iron imports are still expected to increase in 2020, but revising down growth to 6% from a 19% projection before the coronavirus.
Spot prices for the steelmaking ingredient, with 62% iron content, meanwhile, surged to the highest in nearly 10 months to $102.5 per tonne at the weekend over supply concerns in Brazil and China’s environmental shutdowns.
The Brazilian miner said its production and operation have not been impacted by the pandemic and the company is keeping its full-year output target unchanged, the China steel association said in a statement on its website.
Brazil, China’s second biggest iron ore supplier, has registered 526,447 confirmed coronavirus cases and 29,937 deaths.
Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; Editing by Himani Sarkar and David Evans