The Coal Trader

Coal Mining Steel Furnace

China’s Blast Furnace capacity use edges up during CNY holiday

The blast furnace (BF) capacity utilization rate among the 247 Chinese steel producers under Mysteel’s regular tracking nudged up for the sixth straight week to reach 83.97% during February 9-15, higher by 0.17 percentage point from the prior week, while the daily hot metal output among these steelmakers also rose by 4,800 tonnes/day on week to average 2.25 million t/d.

Last week, one idled BF was brought back on stream after the maintenance work had been completed, which led to a small increase in the overall hot metal production, the survey showed. Chinese steelmakers generally kept their BFs operating during the Chinese New Year holiday that officially spanned February 10-17, although domestic steel trading largely ceased, Mysteel Global noted. As such, daily average consumption of imported iron ore among the sampled steelmakers had picked up for the sixth straight week by another 6,500 t/d on week to reach 2.76 million t/d during February 9-16, according to the survey.

During the same period, two BFs of smaller sizes were shut off for routine maintenance, so the average operational rate among the tracked 247 mills lost 0.3 percentage point on week to 76.37%, the survey showed. On the other hand, most domestic steelmakers halted their procurement of iron ore last week since suppliers of the feedstock had left the market to enjoy their holiday breaks, Mysteel Global learned, so steel mills could only consume their own iron ore stocks for production.

As a result, the 247 steelmakers under Mysteel’s tracking saw their iron ore inventories drop significantly during the holiday, with their total stocks of imported iron ore lower by 13.4 million tonnes or 12.3% on week to 95.7 million tonnes as of February 16. The stocks would be sufficient to last these mills for 34.7 days at their present consumption rate, shorter by 5 days from the previous period, according to Mysteel’s assessment.