SYDNEY, March 4 Iron ore shipments to
China through Australia's Port Hedland rose modestly in February
compared with January, according to data released by the port
authority, suggesting steady demand from the world's largest
steel industry after signs of a weak start to 2012.
A cloudy outlook for steel demand curbed China's appetite
for iron ore recently as mills opted to run down inventories
instead of booking new orders, according to commodities traders.
But in recent weeks signs have emerged that steel mills were
back in the market, albeit cautiously.
Iron ore with 62 percent iron content was up
0.1 percent to $143.20 a tonne as of late last week, according
to Steel Index, matching a level last seen on Feb.
February shipments of iron ore to China via the port
totalled 14.58 million tonnes, after falling 15 percent in
January to 14.0 million from December, according to port
South Korea was a distant second, importing 2.65 million
tonnes in February, the data showed.
Total iron ore shipments from the port in February rose to
19.58 million tonnes versus 17.4 million tonnes in January,
according to the data.
BHP Billiton is the port's biggest user,
followed by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Both companies
ship the bulk of their ore to China.