Share of China's coal imports from Australia falls to 26% in October

Drop follows China's unofficial ban on Australian imports ranging from coal to copper ores and barley

  
Cranes unload coal from a cargo ship at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China December 8, 2018. Picture taken December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Cranes unload coal from a cargo ship at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China December 8, 2018. Picture taken December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING - China's coking coal imports from Australia slumped in October to 1.53 million tonnes, or about 26% of its total imports of the fuel, customs data showed on Wednesday.

That compared to a share of 30% in September and 78% in March, the highest level since at least 2018, according to Reuters' calculations based on data from the General Administration of Customs.

The drop follows China's unofficial ban on Australian imports ranging from coal to copper ores and barley, amid souring relations between Beijing and Canberra. 

Imports from Mongolia, which has overtaken Australia as China's top coal supplier since August, were 3.26 million tonnes last month.

Arrivals of Russian coking coal reached 649,847 tonnes, while shipments from Canada were 405,023 tonnes.

China's coal imports, including coking coal and thermal coal, nearly halved in October from a year ago as the country nears an informal import quota. 

Coking coal is mainly used for steelmaking while thermal coal is used as fuel at power plants.

Australian coal arrivals will likely slow further in coming months, traders and analysts have said. They expect Mongolian exports to fill the gap, while Russian coking coal exports could face logistical hurdles in the winter. 

Some Chinese coal miners are also eyeing increasing output to take a bigger share of the market, but production could be capped by Beijing's year-long campaign to carry out safety inspections on working coal mines. 

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