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    China urges miners to invest offshoreArticle from: ReutersFont size: Decrease Increase Email article: Email Print article: Print From correspondents in Shanghai

    February 27, 2008 08:57am
    THE China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) has urged its members to invest directly in overseas resources, as a rise in iron ore prices and constrained coking coal supplies threaten their bottom line.

    Chinese steel makers recently agreed with Brazilian miner Vale to pay 65 per cent or 71 per cent more for iron ore for the fiscal year beginning in April.

    They are facing a potentially more serious crunch in coking coal supplies, after China prioritised thermal coal supplies to power plants while weather impeded coal shipments from overseas.

    "Chinese steelmakers should widen overseas co-operation, strengthen overseas mining investment and build up a secure, long-term base in iron ore and coking coal through controlling or joint stakes (in overseas mines)," CISA Secretary General Zhang Xiaogang said.

    Price increases in iron ore, coking coal, coke and crude oil will keep domestic and international steel prices high, Mr Zhang said on CISA's website overnight.

    Chinese steelmakers, represented by Baosteel, are still in negotiations with Australian miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

    Rio and BHP have not settled with any of their Asian customers, as they seek a premium so they can benefit from the shorter shipping distance compared with Brazil.

    The Xinhua news agency overnight criticised Baosteel for having stalled on negotiations, allowing Japanese mills -- concerned that the miners were trying to shift to a more flexible pricing system -- to sign a deal first.

    Baosteel had misjudged its own bargaining power, the analysis said.

    China's Ministry of Commerce weighed in overnight, reminding the Australian miners that both sides rely on each other in an oblique reference to the tradition that all steel mills and miners accept whatever deal is first hammered out by any of them.

    "Both sides need to maintain a stable and fair trade system for a win-win outcome," the statement quoted "an official in charge" as saying.
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