China’s dependency on iron ore is going to grow – that much is sure. Steel output is the rock on which its rapid industrialisation project is based.
But  from where, and at what price, will the world’s most populous country (and second biggest “economy”) be sourcing this raw material? The answers to these questions have implications that stretch far beyond China’s own borders.
As the regime now enters its twelfth Five Year development plan, we summarise recent data relating to iron and steel trade, along with some Chinese commentary, on recent developments. The evidence throws considerable doubt on widespread perceptions that China is dictating trading terms to the rest of the world – as if mere demand, in itself, guarantees a problem-free future for the country’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and middle classes.
The Big Three global iron ore giants (Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton) together control roughly two-thirds of the $88 billion seaborne iron ore trade.