TIANJIN - The shortage of iron ore supplies in China is expected to ease gradually with more domestic mineral discoveries and overseas mining acquisitions, said an industry leader in Tianjin Wednesday.
China's iron ore output was expected to exceed 1.3 billion tons within three to five years, said Zhou Zhongshu, president of China Minmetals Corp, at the ongoing China Mining Conference and Exhibition.
Domestic iron ore supplies had been rising for the last two years, Zhou said.
Last year, China's investment in mineral exploration rose 17 percent from the previous year to 27 billion yuan ($4 billion), according to the Ministry of Land and Resources.
In the past 12 years, China had discovered more than 900 new reserves, including 152 large and super large reserves, according to the ministry.
During the first nine months of 2010, China's iron ore output increased 26 percent year-on-year to 780 million tons.
However, iron ore imports dropped 2.5 percent to 460 million tons during the same period, compared with a jump of 41.6 percent in 2009.
Chinese mining companies were also seeking overseas acquisitions to ensure supplies, Zhou said.
Stakes in overseas iron ore mines, including those under construction, translated to an annual output of 190 million tons, accounting for 30 percent of the country's imports, he said.
China Minmetals Corp is the largest iron and steel trader in China. The Beijing-based company is engaged in the production and trading of metals and minerals, including copper, aluminum, tin, lead, zinc and nickel.