Monday 8 August 2016 11:54 am

China iron ore imports hit second-highest level on record

China's ravenous appetite for raw materials helped its iron ore imports hit their second-highest level on record last month.

Demand for the key steel-making ingredient rose as Chinese steel mills fired up furnaces on the back of higher prices. It comes in the midst of a European steel crisis, which has prompted Tata Steel to reconsider its UK presence.

Read more: China warns EU steel tariffs will hurt the bloc's manufacturers

Customs data released today showed iron ore shipments to China swelled 8.3 per cent to 88.4m tonnes month-on-month in July. The figure came second to a record 96.27m tonnes reached in December last year.

"I'm not really surprised because a lot of overseas suppliers wanted to increase their shipments to take advantage of the price recovery," Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong, said.

Crude oil imports rose 1.5 percent to tonnes month-on-month in July and soybean imports also added 2.65 per cent to 7.76m tonnes.

Read more: Union calls on Tata Steel to clarify intentions for Port Talbot

Coal imports fell 2.48 per cent to 21.21m during this period, while copper imports shed 14.29 per cent to 360,000 tonnes.

But iron ore imports were a bright spot in what was a largely bleaker set of trade data. Chinese imports fell 4.4 per cent year-on-year in US dollar terms last month, while imports plunged 12.5 per cent.