By Min Zhang and Tom Daly
BEIJING (Reuters) - The world's top listed miner BHP Group <BHP.AX> said on Tuesday it had made its first yuan-denominated sale of iron ore to China Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd <600019.SS> (Baosteel) and would explore using blockchain for such transactions in future.
The sale of a Cape Size vessel of lump and fines, worth nearly 100 million yuan ($14.1 million), shows the Chinese currency is making further inroads in iron ore trading after Baosteel, the listed arm of the world's biggest steelmaker China Baowu Steel Group, bought iron ore from Brazil's Vale SA <VALE3.SA> in yuan in January.
BHP said the deal was a part of a 12-month trial and will involve multiple cargoes.
The miner is also expecting to be able to complete its first blockchain iron ore transaction with Baosteel soon, it said in a statement. China, the largest iron ore consumer, brought in over 1 billion tonnes of the steelmaking raw material last year and has long sought to gain influence over pricing to help its steel firms weather market fluctuations.
In a separate statement, Baowu noted it had now struck yuan-based deals with the "three giants" of iron ore - BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale.
The fourth-biggest iron ore miner, Australia's Fortescue Metals Group <FMC.AX>, is also selling in yuan after setting up a trading entity in China in April 2019.
"The active promotion of renminbi settlement in iron ore transactions is not only for operational needs, but also in line with the trend of yuan internationalisation," Baowu said.
Baosteel recently concluded its first yuan-based iron ore purchase with Rio Tinto <RIO.L> <RIO.AX> supported by Standard Chartered, blockchain financial platform Contour and other parties, according to a Rio Tinto statement sent to Reuters.
China's iron ore imports jumped more than 11% in April from a month earlier as steel mills raced to restore production after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the economy earlier in the year.
($1 = 7.0916 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Min Zhang and Tom Daly; editing by Kim Coghill and Jason Neely)