Here’s why ASX 200 mining shares are flying higher

China is the world’s biggest consumer or iron ore.

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Three mining workers stand proudly in front of a mine smiling because the BHP share price is rising

Image source: Getty Images

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is up a healthy 0.7% in morning trade.

By the ASX 200 miners are trouncing those gains.

The Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) share price is up 2.3%; shares in Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) are up 2.61%; and the BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price is up 1.75%.

So, what’s lifting the big miners?

Why are ASX 200 mining shares outperforming today?

The ASX 200 miners listed above all appear to be getting a boost from resurgent iron ore prices.

Iron ore leapt 8.3% higher overnight to trade for US$111.34 (AU$156.22) per tonne.

This came as new customs data revealed iron ore imports from China – the world’s biggest consumer of the metal – increased 14.6% in November from the previous month.

According to Mining.com, China imported 104.96 million tonnes of iron ore in November, 6.9% more than it did in November 2020 and the highest level in 16 months.

Commenting on the leap in imports, Michelle Lam, greater China economist at Société Generale said, “The surprise in import growth was driven by a rebound in commodity volume, probably reflecting improving infrastructure capex demand as local governments stepped up stimulus toward the turn of the year.”

In a note of caution as to import levels in the months ahead, Tang Binghua, an analyst with Founder CIFCO Futures said, “It is unlikely that high levels of imports will continue, as consumption is weak after China stepped up output controls on mills during the heating season and ahead of the Winter Olympics.”

Should import volumes fall and the iron ore price retreat, it will throw up some headwinds for the ASX 200 miners.

How have the big miners been performing?

It’s been a volatile year for the leading ASX 200 miners.

After soaring on rising iron ore prices, the BHP share price is now down 4% over the past 12 months as the price of the metal retreated in recent months.

The Rio share price has fared even worse, down 16% since this time last year.

And the Fortescue comes in at the bottom of the list, down 17% over the full year.

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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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