2023 domestic iron ore concentrate production reached 251 million mt, up 2.12 million from 2022's 248 million mt, slightly below expectations. In H1, frequent mining accidents in Hebei and Shanxi, stricter safety checks, and extended mine closures lowered annual concentrate output. Weaker domestic demand further curtailed production.
Regional production overview:
Concentrate production in North China fell by 2.45 million mt YoY. Hebei saw a 4.76 million mt drop, while Inner Mongolia and Shanxi together had a 2.32 million mt increase. Since the year's start, major conferences and frequent accidents in Hebei have disrupted production. Extended safety shutdowns and slow mine resumptions led to a smaller rise in concentrate output than expected. In H2, the heating season's air quality issues halted production in private mines in Tangshan, Qinhuangdao, and Handan during environmental alerts. Resource depletion in Tangshan and Zhangjiakou also cut concentrate production, causing a notable YoY decline in Hebei. Frequent accidents in Shanxi led to mine suspensions, but quick recoveries by state-owned and large mines later enabled some YoY concentrate production rebound in the region.
East China's concentrate production rose by 4.11 million mt YoY, thanks to resumed mining in Jiangsu and new projects in Anhui. Anhui's major state-owned mining project began its first expansion phase in June 2023 and has been ramping up, with most mines boosting production due to high iron ore prices.
Northwest region's concentrate output dropped by 1.93 million mt YoY, largely because a major Xinjiang state-owned mine failed a safety check and halted for rectifications, impacting regional production.
Southwest region's concentrate production rose in 2023 compared to 2022, with tech upgrades at two Yunnan mines reaching full capacity and strong vanadium-titanium industry demand boosting mine production passion.
Driven by the "Cornerstone Plan", domestic iron ore concentrate capacity and output should rise annually, with faster progress on key projects. In 2023, seven projects started construction and made notable advances:
Looking into 2024, the ongoing "Cornerstone Plan" should sustain domestic iron ore supply growth. SMM predicts an 8.5 million mt increase in concentrate production in 2024, based on mine start dates and annual plans. 2024's production boost is expected mainly from new mines and ramp-ups. For example, Sishanling iron ore mine is set to add 1 million mt. Major mines, like Dazhong Mining, are expanding under the "Cornerstone Plan", aiming to increase output by 1 million mt.