Mr Hambro said China had traditionally delivered on its stated goals and commodity demand would be extremely strong over the next seven months if Beijing got anywhere near this year’s economic growth forecast.
“At some point China’s COVID numbers are going to decrease and for China to get even close to its growth estimates, then there has to be a hell of a ramp up in activity in the second half of 2022,” he told The Australian Financial Review.
“People need to be ready for what could be a pretty exciting time if that kind of engine kicks back into life.
“China has a fantastic track record of being able to restart activity as and when the conditions are right so I have quite a lot of confidence that we will see a demand pull for commodities in the second half of the year if the covid numbers start to decline.”
A recent survey of economists by Bloomberg predicted that Chinese economic growth would be 4.5 per cent this year, not 5.5 per cent.
Even though lockdowns have curbed demand for steel in China, mills have continued to make steel at rapid rates and created a glut that has put downward pressure on steel prices.
While Chinese demand for iron ore and coking coal to make steel remains quite strong, price for both commodities have softened over the past month as lower steel prices have reduced Chinese mills’ ability to pay high prices for raw materials.
Global supply of commodities like copper, iron ore, coal and lithium remains weak on the back of labour shortages and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and war in Ukraine.
While prices for commodities like aluminium, nickel, copper and coking coal have eased on the back of Chinese lockdowns, prices for most commodities remain at historically high levels.
Mr Hambro said the notion that Chinese demand would rebound later this year could reignite commodity prices.
“That is quite an ambitious prospect when you have commodity markets as tight as they are,” he said.
Rio chief Jakob Stausholm told Bloomberg TV on May 26 that iron ore markets remained nicely balanced despite the Chinese lockdowns.
“There’s no doubt that the fight against COVID in China has had an impact, very short term, on the Chinese economy, but China seems very determined to meet their growth targets and are right now accelerating their infrastructure investments,” he said.
Rio’s biggest shareholder is Chinese state owned entity Chinalco.
The price for ore with 62 per cent iron was $US134.45 per tonne on May 27.