CHINESE state-owned media outlet, the Global Times, is reporting changes for imported iron ore at Chinese ports from June 1.

Citing China’s General Administration of Customs, the Global Times said customs officials would inspect iron ore at the request of the trader or the importer.

Previously, according to GT, customs officers did mandatory on-site inspections of iron ore batch by batch.

Chinese customs officers could conduct test for harmful and toxic elements in imported iron ore.

Australia, along with Brazil, is the primary supplier of iron ore to China, with large volumes exported from the giant terminals at Port Hedland and Dampier.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for Australia-China relations, with tensions about calls for an inquiry into the causes of COVID-19, as well as tariffs and trade bans imposed on Australian barley and beef.

However, although shares in some mining companies initially took a dip following the announcement, trade minister Simon Birmingham said the changes could prove positive.

“We welcome any improvements in administrative arrangements that could streamline the customs clearance of iron ore imports,” Mr Birmingham said.

“If that is what this does, then that is a positive step forward.”