BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- China's imports of iron ore stood at 618.64 million tonnes in 2010, down 9.13 million tonnes compared to the previous year, figures released Thursday by the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA) showed.
But spending on the imports hit 79.43 billion U.S. dollars, up 29.28 billion U.S. dollars, which drove up production costs for the country's crude steel producers.
Costs of furnace coke and coking coal imports also rose by 12 percent, and 26 percent, respectively.
The figures showed profits of 77 major large and medium-sized steel companies reached 89.71 billion yuan (about 13.59 billion U.S. dollars) last year, up 52.02 percent year on year.
But the industry's profit margins were less than previous years. The profit to cost ratio was only 2.91 percent, said Luo Bingsheng, an analyst with the CISA.
The figures also showed crude steel production last year hit 626.65 million tonnes, up 9.26 percent year on year.