Lump ore can be loaded directly into blast furnaces, is easier to handle during transportation and can be shipped during wet seasons (liquefaction can be an issue with the shipment of iron ore fines during wet weather).

For steelmakers it cuts pollution and lowers cost and lump now constitutes between 15%–20% of blast furnace feedstock.

Solid steel production

According to World Steel Organization data released on Monday China’s estimated steel production fell by a mere 0.1% in January compared to December and by 0.9% year on year.

The modest reduction suggest other regions in the country have been taking up the slack. For the entire 2017 Chinese crude steel output was up 5.7% to 832 million tonnes while global output rose 5.3% to 1.67 billion tonnes.

Hebei province output during last year was also only 0.8% lower than in 2016, raising doubts about the impact of the closures and idling of capacity.