The China Iron and Steel Association, which heads the price negotiation on behalf of domestic steel companies, said the negotiation was still underway. No information about the progress was available.
Hu Kai, an analyst with Umetal, an online steel information provider, said some private steel companies that seldom had access to benchmark pricing might welcome the new system, which would put them at an equal footing with major domestic rivals.
China has around 800 steel mills nationwide, but only 112 steel mills and ore traders have iron ore import licenses, enabling them to buy iron ore under the pricing negotiation mechanism.
As the world's largest iron ore importer, China imported a record of 630 million tonnes of iron ore in 2009, or 68 percent of the world's total shipments. Imports from Australia and Brazil mines accounted for 64.4 percent of the total, according to customs statistics.