China's coal demand set to rebound
China's record imports of coal in April, at 25.05 million tonnes, up 90.1% year on year, indicate rather robust trends for commodity demand, despite concerns over a slowing economy.
Posted: Monday , 28 May 2012
MUMBAI (MINEWEB) -
China's demand for coking coal imports appears to be robust. The Asian major is set to import as much as 50 million tonnes of coking coal in 2012. Imports have already jumped in April, as importers have taken advantage of cheap overseas supplies.
In April, China imported 25.05 million tonnes of coal of all types (lignite included), higher by 17.1% from a month earlier, and 90.1% higher than a year ago.
Data released by the General Administration of Customs showed that imports of anthracite amounted to 3.36 million tonnes, down 11.8% month on month and dropping 10.5% year on year, while that of coking coal (at 5.09 million tonnes), thermal coal (at 7.23 million tonnes) and lignite (at 5.18 million tonnes), rose 22.9%, 35.6% and 20.2% respectively, from a month earlier.
As compared to last year, coking coal was up 59.7%, thermal coal was up 312.5% and lignite was up 140.9%, allaying fears of a slowing economy.
China's General Administration of Customs has decided to include lignite into the categories of imported coal this year, to give a better reflection of China's coal imports. That means, excluding lignite, the imports of hard coal expanded 14.56% from a month ago to 19.87 million tonnes in April.
Data indicates that these figures are still 10.25% less than the record high seen last November.
The world's largest coking coal producer, China is said to have the world's third largest coal reserves at 114 billion tonnes. The country's coal output reached 838 million tonnes during the first quarter, up 5.8% year on year, official data showed.
Though the nation's coal demand has faltered since the fourth quarter of last year as economic growth decelerated, Wang Xianzheng, chairman of the China Coal Industry Association, said at a meeting that supply and demand would continue to be roughly balanced during the second quarter.
At a Coaltrans conference in Beijing recently, industry players said they expect a 10% jump in imports from a year ago. Most of the rebound is seen coming through early fourth-quarter, as the impact of more monetary policy easing and economic rebound starts to flow through, Sun Xuefeng, manager at Sinosteel Raw Materials was quoted by agencies as saying.
China imported 44.6 million tonnes of coking coal in 2011, a 5.5% decline from a year ago, as the government's year long clampdown on the property sector hammered steel producers.
April has also seen higher imports from the Guangdong province, the economic hub in southeastern China. The area recorded a surge in coal imports during the first four months of the year, despite a slowdown in demand as impacted by a faltering domestic economy.
Guangdong imported 19.91 million tonnes of coal in the January to April period, growing 87.5% year on year, according to data recently released by the National Development and Reform Commission. The volume represents 34.23% of the province's total coal purchases during the same period.
The country is on a drive to rationalise the coal industry and develop cleaner and more advanced technology to reduce carbon emissions for the sector by spending more than $79 billion a year during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).