China Boosts Coal Imports as Miners Cut Domestic Production

Updated on
  • June imports at 21.75 million tons, highest since Dec. 2014
  • Inbound shipments seen rising on supply shortfall: ICIS China

China boosted coal imports to the highest in more than a year as domestic production slips amid the government’s drive to cut overcapacity.

The world’s largest coal user increased overseas purchases to 21.75 million metric tons last month, the most since Dec. 2014, data from the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday. Inbound shipments over the first six months of the year increased by 8.2 percent to 108 million tons, compared with a 38 percent slump in the first half of 2015.

China’s demand for seaborne coal is on the rise as the government directs domestic miners to reduce operations as part of broader efforts to curtail industrial overcapacity. The nation’s coal output declined 15.5 percent in May from a year earlier, the most in at least a year.

“China’s coal imports will continue to rise as the country’s production cuts have created a supply shortfall,” Deng Shun, an analyst with ICIS China, said before the data were released. “There is no sign that the government will ease its efforts in addressing overcapacity.”

The nation’s coal production may decline 9 percent this year, offsetting a demand drop of 3.4 percent, Citigroup Inc. said in a research note Monday. Thermal coal prices at the Australian port of Newcastle, an Asian benchmark, may jump as much as 50 percent if rainfall caused by La Nina is heavier than expected, further tightening the market, it said.

— With assistance by Jing Yang

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