Chinese July thermal coal imports jump 31% on year to 19-month high


China imported 9.31 million mt of thermal coal in July, rising 30.7% year on year and up 23.5% from June to the highest level since December 2014, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs Wednesday.

The volume included 7.23 million mt of bituminous material — also a 19-month high — and 2.08 million mt of sub-bituminous coal, but excluded imports of lower CV lignite material.

Thermal coal buyers in China have been increasing their intake of imported thermal coal after a policy to restrict domestic coal production was implemented in April, reducing the working days of miners to 276 days, tightening up domestic supply and resulting in higher prices of such material.

During the January-July period, China imported 49.88 million mt of thermal coal, climbing 0.8% from the same period in 2015. This is the first month this year that the year-to-date volume has been higher than the year before.

Australia remained the largest shipper of thermal coal to China in July at 4.61 million mt, rising 16% on the year and up 43% from June to a 15-month high.

Indonesia sent 3.23 million mt to China in July, 54% higher on the year and increasing 11% from the previous month to the highest monthly volume since December 2014.

China’s imports of Russian thermal coal jumped 57% on the year to 1.34 million mt, which was also 4% higher on the month and at a four-month high.

Total lignite imports for July rose 4% on the year to 5.13 million mt, but dropped 17% from June’s 26-month high. Of the total, 4.46 million mt was received from Indonesia, down 4% on the year and falling 13% from the previous month.

Source: Platts

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