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China’s May coal imports from Russia jump 51% from April

China’s thermal coal imports from Russia jumped 51% in May from the prior month, as buyers snapped up the attractively priced fuel ahead of anticipated strong demand in summer.

The world’s biggest coal consumer brought in 3.3 million tonnes of thermal coal from Russia last month, up from April’s 2.19 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

Russian cargoes have been priced at a discount to supplies from elsewhere, with many buyers halting purchases ahead of embargoes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Chinese and Indian traders have snapped up cheap Russian coal in recent months, pushing up the price from prior bargain levels.

Russian coal is now priced at around $170 per tonne, only slightly below Australia’s $175-$185, according to traders.

However, China’s imports were still lower than the 4 million tonnes bought in May 2021. Though demand typically rises in the summer to generate electricity for cooling, overall coal imports have been weaker in China due to the country’s own higher output this year.

Demand for all coal imports has also weakened on lower economic activity in China due to a two-month long lockdown in Shanghai and restrictions in other cities to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

Coking coal imports from Russia amounted to 1.71 million tonnes in May, up 70% from a year earlier, and level with the April number.

The customs data also showed thermal coal shipments from top supplier Indonesia reached 12.2 million tonnes in May, up from 11.2 million tonnes the year before.

China imported no coal from Australia last month, the data also showed.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing and Muyu Xu in Singapore; Editing by Richard Pullin and Jacqueline Wong)

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