(Bloomberg) -- Chinese steel demand “has definitely plateaued” due to property woes, though the Asian nation’s appetite for the material is still at a “decent level,” said the head of the world’s second-largest iron ore producer.

Vale SA Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Bartolomeo said Thursday during an investment conference that he sees steel demand stalled for a while because China relies on real estate, though he’s expecting a move away from that industry.

“The plateau means they’re going to shift from real estate to manufacturing,” Bartolomeo said during a panel discussion at the FII Priority conference in Rio de Janeiro. “We see a shift from rebar, used for properties, to plates, used in manufacturing.”

China’s property market has been facing a protracted crisis that has dampened the pace of construction and weighed on iron ore prices for months. China is working on a series of measures that will absorb existing housing stock and stabilize markets, which could help a recovery in iron ore.

Vale aims to keep demand up by serving steelmakers across the world through “mega hubs” in the Middle East, Brazil and US as part of its push to manufacture steel using higher-grade iron ore to help reduce emissions.

In the US, Vale received as much as $283 million to build a plant on the US Gulf Coast to make iron-ore briquettes.

“We sell very little in the US now, so we can grow exponentially there,” Bartolomeo said.

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