BEIJING: China’s September coal imports surged 27.5% on the prior year, customs data showed on Friday, as buyers continued to bring in cheaper supplies from abroad ahead of the winter peak season.
Imports came to 42.14 million metric tons, close to August’s record 44.3 million tons.
The recent strong coal imports are being supported by rising domestic coal prices. Qinhuangdao free-on-board (FOB) coal, a domestic benchmark, was assessed at $151.68 per ton most recently on Oct. 9, up from a more than two-year low of $116.42 on June 19.
That was partly as a result of mine safety inspections following a series of accidents that temporarily tightened supply.
The spot price for 5,500 kilocalories (kcal) coal from Australia’s Newcastle port was assessed at $143.22 per ton on Oct. 9.
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Higher industrial usage and seasonal restocking activity ahead of colder weather in northern China also contributed to strong demand for thermal coal.
During the nine months from January to September, China purchased a total 347.65 million tons of coal, up 73.1% from the same period in 2022, the customs data also showed.