SINGAPORE, Jan 30 (Reuters) – China is set to receive at least two shipments of Australian coal in early February, the first since an informal ban on imports from 2020 was lifted earlier this month, according to data from traders and ship tracking.
Coal traders will be watching how easily shipments get through customs for signs that the unofficial ban has indeed ended, hoping to send more Australian coal to China.
Australian thermal coal for power generation and metallurgical coal for steelmaking are favored by Chinese consumers due to their high quality. China’s coal demand is expected to rise in the coming months amid an expected economic rebound after Beijing rolled back its strict zero-covid strategy.
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About 72,000 tons of metallurgical coal were loaded on the bulk ship magical eclipse in Hay Point, Australia, on Jan. 23 and is expected to reach the southern Chinese city of Zhanjiang in Guangdong province next week, Refinitiv and Kpler ship tracking data showed.
China’s top steelmaker Baobao Group bought the shipment, according to a trader familiar with the deal and the ship’s tracking data.
Baowu is one of four state-backed companies that received approval from China’s state planner to buy Australian coal in early January. The company has an annual steelmaking capacity of 12.25 million tons at its Zhanjiang base.
Bao did not immediately respond to a Reuters request seeking comment.
another bulk ship, BBC MarylandKpler data showed that it was carrying about 12,000 tons of thermal coal from the Australian port of Newcastle to the eastern Chinese city of Changshu. The shipment is supposed to arrive on February 10, but it is still unclear who the buyer was.
Reuters reported in early January that China Energy Investment Corporation had purchased at least two shipments of Australian coal. Local Chinese media reported that two other companies that have received licenses to buy Australian coal have also placed orders.
Other Chinese utility companies and steelmakers not on Beijing’s list of approved importers are still waiting to resume imports.
China is paying a high price for banning Australian coal
Customs officials in five major eastern and southern Chinese cities have said there are no special requirements for companies importing Australian coal during the customs declaration process.
However, it is unclear whether customs authorities will clear shipments purchased by companies other than the four approved ones.
Australian thermal coal with a thermal content of 5,500 kcal was valued at about $132 a tonne free last week, down from about $137 a tonne in early January, traders said.
Low-volatility coking coal for delivery to China was valued at around $320 a tonne last week, down from $315 in early January, traders said.
(Reporting by Moyo Kho; Editing by Florence Tan and Christine Schmullinger)
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