TRADE minister Simon Birmingham has asked for clarification over reports China has implemented restrictions on imports of Australia coal.

Newspapers this week published reports saying Dalian Port had banned imports of Australian thermal coal.

Mr Birmingham said was he was aware of “unconfirmed and unsourced media reports and have asked our Ambassador in Beijing to urgently clarify their veracity”.

“We continue to engage closely with industry on matters of market access. I met with the Minerals Council of Australia this week to discuss market access issues and our related representations to Chinese authorities,” he said.

“Australia is, and will continue to be, a reliable supplier of resources around the world. Australia’s exports of coal to China in the fourth quarter of 2018 were higher in volume and value than the same period in 2017.”

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Mr Birmingham said China was a valued partner Australia.

“We trust that our free trade agreement commitments to each other will continue to be honoured,” he said.

Thermal coal is used for power generation, as opposed to metallurgical coal which is used in steel making.

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