July 27th (Steel Guru) – French iron ore imports totaled 2.001 million tonne in May up by 70.8% YoY. Moreover, the country imported 5.695 million tonne of iron ore in January to April 2008 up by 4.8% YoY

French during January to April 2008 period imports from Brazil totaled 3.637 million tonne down by 4.9% YoY. Shipments to France from Mauritania totaled 970,000 tonne up by 4.9% YoY

Australian imports were increased by 14.9% to 551,000 tonne that reached France during January to April 2008 period.

July 21st (Steel Guru) – According to Taiwan Directorate General of Customs, iron ore imports into the country in April 2008 were 1.114 million tonne a reduction of 0.092 million tonne or 6.0% YoY from the levels in the previous corresponding period.

Derived January to April imports totaled 5.474 million tonne a decrease of 0.344 million tonne or 5.9% YoY from 5.817 million tonne in the same period last year.

July 20th (Business Spectator) – Fortescue Metals Group Ltd says it can now expand and further develop growth projects throughout West Australia’s Chichester Ranges, after achieving “Project Completion”.

The milestone required the resource firm to mine, rail and ship two million tonnes of iron ore within a four week period, which has been verified by Behre Dolbear Australia, the project’s independent engineer.

It means Fortescue has now satisfied certain conditions within its financial arrangements, allowing it to pursue expansion and development plans for the Chichester Ranges.

It comes eight weeks after the company shipped its first load of iron ore to Chinese steel major Baosteel.

“This sets a great platform for the continuing ramp up of our project to its initial targeted capacity of 55 million tonnes,” Fortescue chief executive Andrew Forrest said.

Mr Forrest said it marked another step towards the company’s goal to become a major mining player.

July 17th (Steel Guru) – China Customs statistic shows that Chinese iron ore imports through Rizhao port reached 29.27 million tonne for January to June period, becoming the No 1 iron ore import port in terms of volume.

The newly built 250,000 tonnes dock has provided more room for piling up iron ore. At the same time, it has strived to enlarge market share and the tonnages have jumped by 19.3% year on year in the first half of 2008.

Rizhao port is now concentrating on the construction of key project, including 2nd phase of iron ore yard, which is expected to be put into force in H2. The new projects are expected to further sharpen its edge over others

Rizhao’s throughput topped 100 million tonne in 2006 and that surged by 19% to 130 million tonne in 2007. It ranks 9 among sea ports in China.

July 16th (Bloomberg) – The number of ships delayed at ports in Western Australia increased, a sign that a price accord between iron ore miners and Chinese steelmakers has boosted demand for the raw material, Simpson, Spence & Young Ltd. said.

Vessels are being delayed an average of six days at western Australian ports, the highest so far this year, London-based Simpson, Spence, the world’s largest private shipbroker, said in an e-mailed note today.

“This would appear to be a result of a revival in Pacific iron ore chartering activity following the agreement of contract prices between Australian miners and Asian steelmakers,” the report said.

Mining companies BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group won 97 percent price increases for iron ore supplied to Asian steelmakers in 2008.

The cost of hiring ships that can sail fully loaded through the Panama canal and of carriers the next size up that must go around Chile’s Cape Horn are being “supported by booming global coal markets,” the report said. U.S. exports of the fuel were the highest for more than 10 years in May, the report said.

July 10th (Steel Guru) – Bloomberg reported that China, the world’s largest iron ore consumer imports of the steelmaking ingredient rose 23% in the first six months from a year ago.

The general customs office said in a statement, China imported 230 million tonnes in the first half. It said the average price gained 77% to USD 132.60 per tonne in the period from a year ago.

July 7th (Steel Guru) – According provincial Economics & Trade Committee, BaoSteel’s agreement to pay 85% more for Rio Tinto’s iron ore this year would lead to CNY 7.96 billion increase for steelmaking costs for steel mills in Shandong, where iron ore imports have hit 58.96 million tonnes last year.

It’s the sixth year of steep contract ore price rise, which would push up input costs for domestic steel mills further higher. And statistics show that China has imported 145.6 million tonnes of iron ore from Australia last year, accounting for 38% of the country’s total ore imports, out of which, 80% is from Rio and BHP.

Shandong has become more dependent on overseas important resources recently. And local iron ore imports have jumped 7.2 times to 58.96 million tonnes last year from 7.15 million tonnes in 2000. Local iron ore imports have hit 32.58 million tonnes in the first five months of this year with import values of USD 4.26 billion up by 23.5% YoY and 80%YoY.

Of the total ore imports last year, 21.44 million tonnes of 36.4% are from Australia, and the overall 85% ore price rise this year will add input costs of CNY 7.96 billion for steel mills in the province.