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Chinese Coal Imports to Surge in January on December Backlog

Coal News - Published on Thu, 23 Jan 2020

Image Source: CIL Coal Production
Noted columnist Mr Clyde Russell wrote in Reuters that China's coal imports are likely to show an impressive bounce in January after customs delays crimped December clearances, but questions remain as to the outlook for 2020 as a whole. December imports were just 2.27 million tonnes, taking the full year figure to 299.7 million tonnes, up 6.3per cent from 2018. While 2019's imports were 18.5 million tonnes higher, the slowing of clearances in December did mean the total for the year stayed below the big round figure of 300 million tonnes.

It's clear that most cargoes that arrived in December weren't cleared by customs, most likely as part of efforts to limit growth in annual coal imports. With cargoes being held up in December, it's likely that January's imports will see a surge, assuming much of the backlog is cleared. About 20.2 million tonnes of coal arrived at Chinese ports in December, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv. Given that only 2.27 million tonnes were cleared by customs, around 18 million tonnes from December still likely need to be processed this month. Seaborne arrivals for the first 19 days of January were around 13.5 million tonnes, according to Refinitiv, meaning there is potential for January to show a significant surge in official imports. There may even be more given that the Refinitiv data is for seaborne arrivals only, and excludes overland imports from neighbouring countries such as Mongolia.

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Posted By : Arun Huidrom on Thu, 23 Jan 2020
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