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.

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