India achieved a remarkable milestone in January by exporting its highest volume of iron ore in nearly three years, Kallanish notes.

The country’s iron ore exports, in the form of fines and lumps, surged to 4.86 million tonnes – a level not seen since March 2021, when export volumes reached 5.87mt, according to customs data.

Notably, the primary importer of Indian iron ore was China, followed by countries like Malaysia and Qatar.

Stimulated by strong pre-Chinese New Year restocking and positive economic indicators in China, Indian iron ore fines exports to China surged.

Also, costlier high-grade iron ore imports from other origins and thin margins for Chinese mills further fuelled demand for India's cost-competitive lower-grade ore.

In 2023, India exported 33.2mt of iron ore, with 97% of exports going to China. China's iron ore prices remained above $100/tonne throughout the year, driven by robust demand and low inventory levels. Additionally, the country sustained crude steel production at 1.02 billion tonnes, further bolstering iron ore demand.

In January 2024, India's iron ore pellet exports reached 1.77mt, levels not seen since March 2020. Annual pellet exports in 2023 totalled 10.8mt, marking a 46% increase year-on-year.