The Coal Trader

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China’s Blast Furnace capacity use rebounds to 82.79%

The blast furnace (BF) capacity utilization rate among the 247 Chinese steel producers under Mysteel’s regular tracking ended a four-week drop and rebounded to 82.79% during March 15-21, gaining 0.21 percentage point on week partly as the profit losses among these mills eased somewhat, Mysteel Global noted.

During the same period, the daily hot metal output among these sampled steelmakers picked up 5,700 tonnes/day or 0.26% from the previous week to reach 2.21 million t/d, while their operational rates averaged 76.9%, also up by 0.75 percentage point on week, the survey showed.

Some steelmakers ramped up their output this week after they had completed their routine maintenance, while the recovery in steel margins also encouraged some mills to lift production, Mysteel Global learned.

As of March 21, around 23% steel mills of the 247 steelmakers managed to make some profits on steel sales, higher by 2 percentage points from the prior week, according to Mysteel’s survey.

The uptick in the prices of finished steel helped some mills to regain profits, Mysteel Global noted. On Thursday, China’s national spot price for HRB400E 20mm dia rebar settled at Yuan 3,723/tonne ($522.1/t) including the 13% VAT, higher by Yuan 5/t on week, Mysteel assessed.

On the other hand, the daily consumption of imported iron ore among the 247 mills under Mysteel’s survey stood largely stable on week at 2.7 million t/d over March 15-21, though the volume dipped by 4,700 t/d or 0.2% from the prior week.

The prices of imported iron ore increased at a faster rate than those of domestically-produced iron ore concentrates and steel scrap, prompting some steelmakers to reduce their use of imported ore to shave costs, Mysteel Global noted.

As of March 21, the total inventories of imported iron ore held by the sampled 247 steelmakers continued rising for the fifth consecutive week by another 1.2 million tonnes or 1.3% on week to 93.9 million tonnes, which would be sufficient to last them for 34.8 days at their present use rate, longer by 0.5 day from the prior period, according to Mysteel’s assessment.

Written by Anthea Shi