The China Iron and Steel Association said Monday that 38 steelmaking converters, with output capacity of 45 million tonnes of crude steel, went into production in China last year; 32 of which were newly-built.
Significantly in an industry dominated by large government-run companies, private enterprises put into production 17 of the new facilities representing almost 42% of the added tonnage.
The investments come despite plummeting profitability in the sector and amid constant allegations that China's state-controlled steel industry is not at all exposed to market realities, but is simply used by the communist government as a blunt instrument for economic growth.
China's blast furnaces forge steel at a rate of almost 2m tonnes a day and account for close to half of global output that reached over 1.5bn tonnes last year.
The global iron ore business is dominated by China – the country's blast furnaces consume more than 60% of the more than 1 billion tonnes seaborne iron ore trade.
Iron ore has pulled back from 15-month highs set early January when the commodity came within sight of $160 a tonne.
On Monday Tianjin iron ore was changing hands at $148.40 a tonne – still up an astonishing 70% from its September lows.