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China’s coal imports from Russia fall in Oct on rail jam, weak demand

China’s coal imports from Russia continued to slip in October from the prior months, as logistics bottlenecks in Russia curbed supply and lower demand in China also capped appetite for the fossil fuel.

Arrivals of Russian coal last month were 6.43 million tonnes, down from 6.95 million tonnes in September and a record of 8.54 million tonnes in August, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

But it was still 26% higher than the level in October 2021.

China has been snapping up cheap Russian coal after Western countries shunned trade with Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

But transport infrastructure limitations in Russia, following a spike of exports heading east towards Asia, slowed its coal supply to China.

Several Chinese traders said that all cargoes scheduled to load in 2022 were fully booked and the rail congestion made it impossible to add shipments.

China’s faltering economy also led to less power generation and industrial demand. In October, total power output dipped by 0.4% from September and grew only 1.3% from a year ago, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. That compares to a 3% year-on-year growth in October 2021.

Coal imports from Indonesia were 17.96 million tonnes last month, down 13% from September and up 15% from the same period last year, customs data showed.

Chinese coal-fired power generators favor low-quality brown coal from Indonesia for its cheap price as utilities struggle to pass high feedstock costs to downstream users, thanks to Beijing’s price caps on electricity.

A strong dollar and the recovery of domestic production, following some relaxations of COVID-19 curbs, also discouraged Chinese power plants to lift more overseas coal.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Muyu Xu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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