RPT-COLUMN-China iron ore miners' call for import protection is ironic, distracting: Russell
(Repeats column published earlier with no changes to text. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)
By Clyde Russell
LAUNCESTON, Australia, July 27 (Reuters) - There is something of a delicious irony in China's iron ore miners complaining of dumping by foreign producers, but what it really underscores is the multitude of challenges facing the world's biggest steel industry.
The domestic miners want an anti-dumping investigation into iron ore imported from the world's top suppliers, complaining that low-cost majors - Brazil's Vale and the Anglo-Australian pair of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton - are flooding the market.
"A huge volume of low-priced imported iron ore has had a severe impact on the domestic mining industry and even posed a big challenge for the security of steel production," more than 20 Chinese miners said in a statement on the website of the Metallurgical Miners' Association of China.
The call for protection from foreign miners comes against a backdrop of increasing anti-dumping measures on Chinese steel in markets such as Europe, India and the United States.
The Chinese miners' call for measures against iron ore imports can be viewed as the latest salvo in this ongoing war, although it's quite some way to go from a statement on an association website to the authorities in Beijing actually imposing measures.
It's also far from clear that protecting the domestic miners from cheaper imports would actually help China's steel sector, which accounts for about half of the world's total production.
Anti-dumping tariffs on iron ore would only serve to raise the cost of producing Chinese steel, rendering it less competitive in export markets as well as potentially hurting domestic demand growth. Continuación...