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China coal imports jump; Russian cargoes fall

China’s coal imports rose 12.2 per cent in September from a month earlier as the world’s top consumer of the fuel brought in larger shipments of cheap Indonesian coal.

Coal imports totalled 33.05 million tonnes last month, up from 29.46 million tonnes in August and slightly higher than last September’s 32.88 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

The higher imports came even as domestic output surged, hitting a record for average daily production.

China had ordered its utilities to build up inventory sufficient for at least 20 days of use to ensure power supply, pushing up domestic prices and sending buyers seeking cheaper fuel from overseas.

Spot prices for thermal coal with energy content of 5,500 kilocalories (kcal) climbed by 40 per cent in the month from late August.

China brought in 20.7 million tonnes of coal from top supplier Indonesia in September, up from 15.82 million tonnes in August, customs data showed.

Imports from Mongolia also rose 18 per cent from the previous month to 4.24 million tonnes, but Russian cargoes fell to 6.95 million tonnes, down from a peak of 8.54 million tonnes in August.

As prices of overseas cargoes picked up, together with a stronger dollar, appetite for coal imports was expected to ease, analysts and traders said.

Indonesian thermal coal at 4,200 kcal was priced at $91.5 a tonne free on board in late September, compared with only $75.7 in late August.

Total coal imports for the period from January to September reached 201 million tonnes, down 12.7 per cent year on year.
Source: Reuters

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