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China to Continue Talks over Iron Ore Price
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The China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) denied reports Tuesday that Chinese steelmakers would accept a 19-percent rise in contract prices and explained that the country's steel mills had decided to continue negotiations over the price of iron ore with major foreign mines.

"We will continue price talks with the mines in June," a reliable source with the CISA who declined to be named told Xinhua. "We don't accept the price increase," he said. .

Chinese steel mills made the decision at a recent national meeting after the world's leading iron ore provider, Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doc (CVRD) and German steel producer Thyssen Krupp AG, agreed May 16 on the 19-percent increase in contract prices of iron ore.

Chinese steel mills are intent on continuing negotiations although some of their foreign counterparts have agreed to the price rise, the source said. They've refused to send letters of confirmation on the increase to the CVRD. The source said, "talks on prices are not yet concluded."

They hope to negotiate a lower price increase after being forced to accept a 71.5 percent rise in the iron ore price last year, added the source.

To date Chinese steel mills have not reached agreement with the world's three largest iron ore suppliers -- Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton, Australia's Rio Tinto Group and Brazil's CVRD.

The CISA has said that setting the iron ore price without considering the Chinese market, the world's biggest buyer, was unacceptable.

It said the Chinese central government had worked out a set of policies aiming to regroup the iron and steel industry and phase out old production methods in order to upgrade the industry. It was felt this would help dampen China's demand for imported iron ore.

China had always hoped to achieve a win-win situation in iron ore price talks based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit and the international market supply and demand position, said CISA.

Chinese steel firms imported 275 million tons of iron ore last year which was about 43 percent of the global marine trade volume of the ore and 70 percent of Asia's total imports. It's estimated that China will import about 301 million tons of iron ore in 2006, an increase of 10 percent from 2005, the CISA predicated earlier his month.

Currently, the European market reports the highest price for steel, the official said.

By the end of April, the composite steel price index on the global market rose to 149 points, close to last year's highest 153.4 points. However, the composite steel price index on the Chinese market only reported 105.67 points at the end of April which is down 23.6 percent from March's highest 138.33 points.

"Under such circumstances when the Asian market, especially the Chinese market, is at a low price level, Chinese steel firms would not accept a decision being taken without taking into account their market," the CISA said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2006)

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