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Iron ore imports surge as price hikes loom
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China's iron ore imports surged during the first four months of this year as users sought to avoid anticipated higher costs, official figures show.

From January to April, China imported 150 million tonnes of iron ore, up 15.1 percent year-on-year, the General Administration of Customs said on Thursday.

Importers expected new agreements with suppliers to mean higher prices. They also expected higher export duties in major source countries, such as India, and rising shipping costs.

The arrivals were valued at 19.87 billion U.S. dollars, up 110 percent year-on-year. The average price reached a record 129.50 U.S. dollars per tonne, up 80 percent.

Australia, India and Brazil remained the top three sources of China's iron ore imports, accounting for 83 percent of the total.

In the first four months, China imported 56.18 million tonnes of ore from Australia, up 10.3 percent; 38.23 million tonnes from India, up 19 percent and 33.07 million tonnes from Brazil, up 8.6 percent.

Imports from the Association of Southeast Asian nations were up 110 percent to 4.28 million tonnes.

Early this year, leading Chinese steel maker Baosteel agreed to a 65 percent price rise for iron ore from major Brazilian supplier Vale.

Baosteel said on Monday that it had accepted price hikes of up to 96.5 percent for iron ore this year from Australian mining group Rio Tinto. The hikes are nearly double those of 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2008)

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