Iron Stockpiles Hit Record in China as Quality Gets Scrutiny

The record heap of iron ore on China’s doorstep just got even bigger, with the increase in holdings so far this year eclipsing the build up seen over all of 2016 as mills produce unprecedented amounts of steel.

Stockpiles at ports rose 1.3 percent to 136 million metric tons, expanding for a fourth week, according to Shanghai Steelhome E-Commerce Co. So far in 2017, they’ve risen 22.05 million tons, surpassing the 20.85 million added last year.

Iron ore has stabilized in the $60s in recent weeks after sinking in March and April on concern rising global production will top demand. The port holdings are one sign of ample supplies, and miner BHP Billiton Ltd. has cited them among risk factors that may tug prices lower even as it remains positive on the outlook for steel production. Mills in China made a record amount in April.

“Stockpiles are high, but what matters more than the absolute volume” is the quality, said Dane Davis, an analyst at…

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