China, the world's biggest steel producer and consumer, has 60.7 billion tons of proven iron ore reserves, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Unproven iron ore reserves were estimated to stand at more than 100 billion tons, Vice Minister of Land and Resources Wang Min told a seminar in northern port city of Tianjin.
In 2006 and 2007, the country discovered 187 iron ore deposits with proven reserves of 3.2 billion tons, said Wang, also head of China Geological Survey.
Investment in iron ore exploration had increased rapidly in the past few years to meet the rising demand for iron ore, Wang said.
The spending totaled 2.3 billion yuan (322 million U.S. dollars) from 2004 to 2007, more than five times higher than in the 15 years to 2003, he said. The country's demand for iron ore would remain high in the long term.
China produced about 490 million tons of crude steel last year, 15.66 percent higher than in 2006. Meanwhile, it imported 383 million tons of iron ore, up 17.4 percent, according to the China Iron and Steel Association.
(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2008)