China’s coal imports set records

Feb 14, 2011 12:00 AM

China's coal imports hit a record 17.3 mm Mtn in December 2010, up 25 % from November on higher volumes from Vietnam, Australia and Indonesia.
The strong finish brought China's coal imports to a record 166 mm Mtn for all of 2010, a 32pc increase from a revised 125.8 mm Mtn for 2009, according to data from the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association (CCTD). The December imports were 5.8% higher than a year prior when the previous monthly record was set.
The data show state-mandated shut downs of energy-intensive industries late in 2010 did not curb China's appetite for coal. Lower industrial demand was offset by a cold winter, drawing down stockpiles at coal-fired utilities. The China Electricity Council estimates the country's electricity consumption, 80% of which is met by coal-fired plants, will grow 12% in 2011, and that coal supply will remain tight in 2011.

The month-to-month increases in December were primarily Indonesian and Australian imports, which rose by 1.3 mm Mtn from each country. Imports from Vietnam were up 1.2 mm Mtn, and Mongolia increased 595,799 Mtn, while South African coal imports fell 75% to 385,671 Mtn. China's coal exports came to 1.4mm Mtn in December, down 29% from a year prior, to finish at 19 mm Mtn for the full year, down from 22.4 mm Mtn in 2009. For the full-year 2010, Indonesia led all countries with 55 mm Mtn of exports to China, followed by Australia at 37 mm Mtn, Vietnam at 18 mm Mtn, Mongolia at 16.6 mm Mtn, Russia at 11.6 mm, and South Africa at 7 mm Mtn.

The average price paid for all coals into China in December was $108.23/Mtn, and for the full year was $102.74/Mtn. Coking coal represented 28% of the country's imports last year at 47.3 mm Mtn. The average value for coking coal reported to CCTD was $145.27/Mtn.
Australia was the top exporter of coking coal to China at 17.4 mm Mtn, followed by Mongolia at 15 mm Mtn, according to the association.

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