(Mysteel) For the first half of 2020, Australia overtook Mongolia to become China’s first coking coal supplier, with the tonnage up 66.5% on year to 24 million tonnes as against the overall growth by 5.6% on year to 38.2 million tonnes, according to detailed data from the country’s General Administration of Customs (GACC).
Over January-June, Mongolia’s coking coal sales to China, however, was seriously affected, as the country shut down its boarder to China over February-March to curtail the spread of the pandemic, market sources shared, and its exports, thus, plunged by 56.2% on year, according to GACC data.
In H1, China’s high coking coal imports especially from Australia seemed a rather natural happening, as the pandemic attack in China in the first quarter of 2020 had seriously reduced the domestic supply with the delay in the resumption of most domestic coal mines to at least March from early February when the Chinese New Year holiday was over.
On the other hand, Mongolia could not help much with its borders closure, and the pandemic spread in the overseas market since March had also led to sharp declines in seaborne coking coal prices, making it a reasonable business decision to import especially for cargoes with May-June laycans, Mysteel Global noted.
China’s overall coking coal import volume, nevertheless, had been slowing in growths month by month in H1, reflecting China’s tightening control on coal imports since late Q1, according to the market sources. The growth for the whole H1, thus, was lower than the 7.1% on-year rise for January-May, according to the Customs data.
China’s coking coal import volumes for June alone went up by 28.9% on month but down 4.3% on year mainly as the volume from Mongolia was still 22.3% short of volume a year ago, despite a steady on-month recovery, Mysteel Global noted.
By the end of June, about 600 trucks/day of Mongolian coal was delivered via Ganqimaodu checkpoint in North China’s Inner Mongolia, much higher than nearly 500 units/day for May but it was still 100 units/day lower than a year ago, according to Mysteel’s market tracking.
In contrast, China’s coking coal imports from Australia gained on year in June, which reflected the higher booking volume both in May and June, according to a Shanghai-based analyst.
“China’s ordering for Australian coking coal with May and June laycans had been rather active, but some shipments in May were not calculated in the May statistics, owing to the prolonged Customs clearance,” he explained.
It remains uncertain, though, whether China’s coking coal imports especially from Australia will sustain the growth for the rest of the year, as the buying enthusiasm from the Chinese buyers has been seriously dampened by the authorities’ efforts in curtailing the import volume, according to him.
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