BEIJING, May 14 - Inventories of imported iron ore at China's major ports reached 69.61 million tonnes this week, up 1.8 percent compared with last week, industry consultancy Mysteel said on Friday.
Ores originating in Australia reached 22.05 million tonnes, up 800,000 tonnes and representing 31.7 percent of the total.
Brazilian ores stood at 18 million tonnes, up 980,000 tonnes since last week and amounting to 25.9 percent of the total.
Stockpiles of Indian iron ore fell 450,000 tonnes to end at 16.85 million tonnes, making up 24.2 percent of the total.
Port stockpiles have remained above 65 million tonnes since the second half of 2008, when local mills started to default on millions of tonnes worth of contracted deliveries because they could buy more cheaply on the spot market.
Spot prices have since recovered, but after threatening to break the $200 per tonne barrier in late April, the price of 63.5 percent Indian fines fell back to $175-177 on Friday, Mysteel said.
Traders said Chinese mills had reduced foreign ore purchases this week, saying the high spot market prices were not supported by demand.
Chinese imports of iron ore stood at 55.33 million tonnes in April, down 6.2 percent on a monthly basis, according to customs data released this week, and many in the industry expect the figure to fall further in coming months.