China’s coal imports in June have fallen by almost 3% from May thanks to government efforts to curb poor quality imports via second tier coal import terminals in southern China.
In June, China imported 21.6 million tonnes of coal, down by 2.7% from May, bringing total imports in the first six months to 133.3 million tonnes, rising by 23.5% on the same period last year, data from Chinese customs show.
During the same period, China’s coal exports in June reached 730,000 tonnes, while the exports in the first half rose by 15.1% year on year to 5.38 million tonnes.
In the meantime, domestic coal production also rose in June by 10.6% year on year to 300 million tonnes, bringing the total in the first six months to 1.71 billion tonnes, up 5% on the year, according to data released by the National Statistics Bureau.
Industry officials attributed the rise in coal imports to the fact that coastal thermal power plants (TPPs), which have easy access to these supplies, have been relying on them to sustain their operations for many years. Sources said that the lower price for imported coal also had an edge over the domestic coal.
In May, China issued a ban to outlaw coal imports via secondary ports built by provincial authorities, especially in the east and southeast, in part to improve air quality. It is not clear when the ban will be lifted.
Sources said that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had charged the coal-importing TPPs with limiting their monthly imports to 15 million tonnes, down 5-10% from normal volumes. Industry officials worry that the limit on coal imports could possibly hurt domestic consumption amid the government’s campaign to remove the coal production overcapacity.