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AUSTRALIAN shipments of coal to China fell 2.1% to 78.4m tonnes in the first eleven months of 2018, analysts Banchero Costa have reported.

This was largely as coking coal (also known as metallurgical coal and used for steel making) shipments fell with easing Chinese import volumes.

Chinese coking coal imports were reported as falling during 2018, even as steel production rose 9.4% year-on-year over the same period to 851.4m tonnes.

This was said to be due to Chinese mills requiring less coking coal as they increased scrap usage in steel making. 

According to Banchero Costa, during the first eleven months of 2018, total coal and lignite imports (from all locations) increased 8.9% to 270.5m tonnes.

“However, it is uncertain if 2018 full year imports will exceed the 2017 volume of 271.1m tonnes, following the introduction of coal import restrictions in November and signals by the government to keep the year’s imports below 2017 levels,” Banchero Costa reported.

Indonesia and Australia are the main coal providers to China, accounting for 45% and 29% respectively of China’s import volume during the first eleven months of 2018.

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Much of Australia’s coking coal comes from the Bowen Basin in Queensland and is exported from terminals at Dalrymple Bay/Hay Point or at Gladstone.

According to a study into Australian coking coal prepared for the Minerals Council of Australia, Queensland’s Bowen Basin is the largest exporting basin of metallurgical coal globally.

“Steel producing countries, particularly those without domestic supply, seek Australian metallurgical coal to ensure a high-quality steel is produced,” the report (prepared late last year) noted.

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