Rio Tinto CEO Says Chinese Steel Demand Is Close to Peaking
Comment of the Day

September 19 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rio Tinto CEO Says Chinese Steel Demand Is Close to Peaking

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“We are foreseeing that the peak steel demand in China is about to be reached,” he said during an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “Not because the Chinese economy is not growing, but just because of the maturity it has reached.”

The notion that China’s steel market is poised to contract this decade — after many years of breakneck growth — is widely held across the industry. Rio’s rival BHP Group reckons annual output has reached a plateau just above a billion tons each year that will stretch into 2024. Analysts at Capital Economics Ltd.
said demand and supply probably peaked in 2020.

Eoin Treacy's view

China is currently restocking iron-ore inventories as demand increased following the end of lockdowns. However, the medium-term risk is that uncompetitive steel mills will shut down as the property sector goes through a downshift in new construction.

China has more steel production capacity than the rest of the world combined. Maybe they will repurpose that into production of military equipment which would support iron-ore demand.

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