THERE are reports China has banned some imports of coal from Australia.
However, opinions appear divided as to if this is a continuation of a dispute that appears to have impacted upon Australian exports of barley and, to a lesser extent, beef, or part of an effort by China to clean up its environment.
The South China Morning Post has already reported that several ships carrying Australian coal remain stranded at Chinese ports.
International business media has reported that China power stations and steel mills have received instructions to stop using Australian coal.
Ports also reportedly have been told to stop offloading Australian coal.
Australian political leaders have so far sought to play down the matter.
Trade minister Simon Birmingham was quoted as saying they did not have the evidence to verify the reports.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also talked of it not being uncommon for China to impose quotas but that the government would be looking into the matter.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said the latest developments were unlikely to dampen demand for Australian coal.
“We are aware of trade media and analyst comments on these matters. The trade with China changes through the year based on a range of factors, including quotas,” Ms Constable said.
“Australia will continue to see demand for its high quality of coal and the medium term outlook remains positive.”
Australia exported in the order of $7.3bn worth of coal to China in the first half of the 2020 calendar year, according to government reports.
China takes about a fifth of Australian coal exports, both the thermal and coking varieties.
It is worth noting that this would not be the first time that China has restricted Australian coal, another case occurring early last year.