BEIJNG (Commodity Online): China's iron ore imports in December totaled 62.16 million tonne, up 11.09 million tonne month on month and up 80.02 per cent year on year.

In 2009, China's iron ore imports came to 628 million tonne, up 41.6 per cent year on year.

Again, by the end of November 2009 China's key large and medium steel mills registered an overall net profit in 2009 RMB 44.8 billion, down 67 per cent year on year.

As long as the Chinese steelmakers are able to make a profit, domestic steel production is likely to continue to expand.

China's steel production has seen an acceleration of its growth trend since June 2009, with the crude steel output for the whole of 2009 estimated at around 565 million tonne, up 13 per cent or so year on year. On the other hand, global steel production, excluding China, has dropped by 23 per cent compared with the previous year.

The sharp rise in China's iron ore imports in 2009 mainly resulted from the increase in domestic steel production volumes. Meanwhile, domestic ore lost its price advantage in 2009. During the first half of 2009, considering the sharp fall in spot ore prices, domestic miners slashed their outputs greatly, with almost 70 percent of medium and small miners halting their operations. By the end of October 2009, the operating rates of domestic miners remained relatively low.