China's March Coal Imports Jump to 3-Year High

April 13, 2023, 11.17 AM | Source: Reuters
China's March Coal Imports Jump to 3-Year High

ILUSTRASI. FILE PHOTO: A reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle, Australia, June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

CHINA - SINGAPORE. China's coal imports surged in March to their highest in any month over the past three years as utilities increased purchases on expectations for a demand recovery and after curbs on bringing in Australian coal were removed.

The world's top coal consumer brought in 41.17 million tonnes last month, the highest level since January 2020, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.

That compares to an average of 30.32 million tonnes per month in the January-February period, and represents an increase of 151% from March last year.

For the first quarter of 2023, China imported a total of 101.8 million tonnes of coal, nearly doubling from a low base last year, the data showed.

Coal demand in China is expected to be robust in the second quarter as the economy continues to emerge from the country's now-abandoned zero-COVID regime.

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Australian coal arrivals were expected to have grown in March after Beijing removed restrictions on coal trade with Canberra.

Cheaper pricing has encouraged imports of Australian thermal coal. Domestic thermal coal with energy content of 5,500 kilocalories costs 1,050 yuan ($152.76) a tonne at the northern Chinese port of Qinhuangdao, while Australian coal of the same quality costs around $120 a tonne on a free-on-board basis.

Utilities and traders also stepped up procurement from Indonesia before the Muslim country entered the Ramadan festival in mid-March.

Coal production and transport in Indonesia, China's top thermal coal supplier, typically slow ahead of the Muslim fasting month. Last year Ramadan fell in early April. ($1 = 6.8734 Chinese yuan renminbi) 

Editor: Yudho Winarto

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