South Korea’s April Coal Imports Rise 29%, Costs Climb 11%

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest energy user, increased power-station coal imports by 29 percent in April and paid higher prices for the fuel as a rebounding economy and colder weather boosted demand for electricity.

Purchases rose to about 7.44 million metric tons last month from 5.75 million a year earlier, according to customs data. The cost of the imports rose by about 11 percent to $87.40 a ton.

Temperatures averaged 9.5 degrees Celsius (49.1 degrees Fahrenheit) last month, compared with 12.7 degrees Celsius a year earlier, according to Korea Gas. Heating demand rose 28 percent in April. Demand for coal may climb 2.3 percent annually by 2013, according to state-run Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Power-station coal prices at Australia’s Newcastle port, a benchmark for Asia, rose to $108.87 a ton in the week ended April 30 from $94.84 in the week ended March 26. Prices have dropped to $102.23 a ton in the week to May 14, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index.

Coal is used to produce almost half of South Korean power generators’ output.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shinhye Kang in Seoul at skang24@bloomberg.net; Dinakar Sethuraman in Chennai at +91- dinakar@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clyde Russell at crussell7@bloomberg.net.

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