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China’s Sep thermal coal imports head south amid import restrictions

China’s thermal coal imports fell 9.6% on the month to 18.7 million mt in September, the latest General Administration of Customs data showed, as the uncertainty over China’s import restrictions continue to cast a shadow over fresh seaborne procurement activity, market sources said.

The imports in September fell 38.3% from a year ago, the data showed.

“Coal imports fell for the fifth consecutive month, as China continues to tighten its import restrictions,” ANZ analysts said in a report released Oct 13.

China’s coal imports over January-September fell 4.4% year on year to 239 million mt, the customs data showed.

A lack of clarity on available Chinese import quotas for the remainder of 2020 have limited the upside potential of Indonesian export prices, traders said.

The September average price of the Indonesian 4,200 kcal/kg GAR — or 3,800 kcal/kg NAR — coal was $23.44/mt FOB Kalimantan, largely stable from the August average of $23.38/mt FOB, Platts data showed.

The average price of the Australian 5,500 kcal/kg NAR coal with 23% ash rose by about 8.5% to around $38-$39/mt FOB Newcastle, as pockets of Indian seaborne inquiries for its power and cement sectors have provided some buy-side support for the high-cv material.

After China returned from its golden week holidays on Oct. 9, market sources have been keeping a close tab for the release of any fresh import quotas for the remainder of this year to support seaborne prices.

Rains across Kalimantan have also delayed loading activities slightly, but had limited impact on laycan windows, miners told Platts.

Meanwhile on China’s domestic coal front, the country produced 330 million mt of coal in August, up 3% from July, but a marginal 0.1% decline on the year, latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

From January to August this year, China’s coal production totaled 2.45 billion mt, down 0.1% on the year.
Source: Platts

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