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China April coal imports soar, driven by panic orders in early March

10 May 2022


China’s coal imports surged 43% in April from March, driven by panic buying over concerns of supply disruption in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has dropped off as traders turn to cheap domestic supply.

China shipped in 23.55 million tonnes of coal last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday. That compares with 16.42 million tonnes in March and 21.73 million tonnes in April 2021.

For the period of January-April, China brought in a total of 75.41 million tonnes of coal, down 16% on the same period a year earlier.

Benchmark Newcastle thermal coal NCFMc1 hit a record high of $440 a tonne in early March, fuelled by fears of tight supply as Western countries vowed to impose sanctions on Russia’s financial system and energy products after Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

As global coal prices stayed high while Chinese central government ordered miners to boost domestic output and capped local prices, Chinese traders then shunned expensive seaborne cargos in favour of domestic sources.

China aims to churn out a record 12.6 million tonnes of coal each day and maintain coal prices under term-contracts at 570-770 yuan ($84.99-114.81).

Meanwhile, the country’s state planner in April urged 14 regions, including Guangdong, Guangxi and Zhejiang, which largely rely on imported coal, to sign more term-contracts with the top mining hubs of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia for domestic supply.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kenneth Maxwell)