In August alone, China imported 234,601 tonnes of direct-reduced iron (DRI), more than its annual volumes in each of the past four years, according to customs data. Imports of DRI for January-August 2019 amounted to 686,964 tonnes, compared with just 79,475 tonnes in the corresponding period of last year.
“China is taking everything now. All the major sales of [hot-briquetted iron] from Russia and Venezuela which I know go there, as well as pig iron from all possible sources,” one trader who deals in metallics said. “And [Chinese buyers] say that they will buy more, if there is an availability.”
Import volumes of merchant pig iron (MPI) into China also increased, to 193,817 tonnes in January-August, from only 22,802 tonnes in the first eight months of 2018. This volume was already in excess of total annual imports for the past five years, according to customs data obtained via ISSB and Steelhome.