15 Apr 2010 14:47

MOFCOM considers anti-monopoly probe into iron ore giants

Shanghai. April 15. INTERFAX-CHINA - China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said at an April 15 press conference that it may conduct an investigation into the global iron ore giants Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, to determine if they constitute a monopoly of iron ore sector.

MOFCOM said steel makers worldwide, including a number in the European Union, have proposed an anti-monopoly investigation into the iron ore giants.

MOFCOM also said that it hopes the iron ore companies in question will come to a reasonable agreement with Chinese steel mills over iron ore prices, and it cautions them that the number of countries from which China now receives iron ore imports has greatly increased in recent years, illustrating that China has other iron ore resources at its disposal. It further stated that domestic iron ore output is growing this year.

In 2009, China relied on imports for 70 percent of its iron ore supply, but this figure has fallen to between 50 and 60 percent for 2010, according to MOFCOM.

MOFCOM also hopes to maintain the annual, long-term iron ore pricing system, while the iron ore companies have stated a preference for quarterly reference-based pricing system.