CHINA - China's coal imports remained at elevated levels in July after overseas purchases nearly doubled in the first half of 2023, as utilities continued to bring in cheaper supplies to meet peak summer power demand, data showed on Tuesday.
The world's top coal consumer imported 39.26 million metric tons of coal last month, a touch below the 39.87 million metric tons in June and compared with average monthly amounts of 37 million metric tons between January and June, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
The July purchases soared 67% from 23.52 million metric tons a year earlier. China's monthly coal import record was 43.56 million metric tons in January 2020.
Power loads have surged and hit new peaks since mid-June as large swathes of the country experienced periods of abnormally high temperatures.
The delivered cost of 3,800-kilocalorie coal from Indonesia and South Africa, as well as higher quality 5,500-kilocalorie fuel from Australia, was lower than the price of domestic supplies in China.
Australian coal for late August and early September deliveries was last pegged at about 800 yuan ($111.3) per metric ton, about 40 yuan below the prevailing wholesale prices in northern coal hub Qinhuangdao, a Singapore-based trader said.
Coal imports during the first seven months totalled 261 million metric tons, 88.6% above year-ago levels, customs data showed.
The bumper imports contributed to record coal inventories at key power plants, last standing at nearly 200 million metric tons by the end of June.