China’s June coking coal imports rise from May

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China's coking coal imports accelerated in June as Mongolia ramped up coal truck deliveries and seaborne arrivals bounced back, with US imports rising to nearly a two-year high.

China imported 6.26mn t of coking coal in June, up by 31pc from 4.78mn t in May but down by 4pc from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data. Total imports during the first half of this year increased by 5pc to 38mn t.

Seaborne imports moved up by 8pc from a year earlier to 4.16mn t in June, accounting for most of the month's rise. These were also higher by 35pc, or 1.08mn t, from May. Total seaborne imports surged by 58pc to 30.93mn t over January-June from 19.62mn t in the year-earlier period.

The Argus spot price assessment for premium low-volatile hard coking coal averaged $111.63/t fob Australia in June, down by 3pc from $115.06/t a month earlier.

Australian shipments increased to 2.83mn t in June, up by 37pc from 2.07mn t in May but only marginally higher from 2.82mn t in June 2019. Total Australian imports over the first half of this year rose by 66pc to 24.23mn t, almost 80pc of China's total Australian imports of 30.94mn t in 2019. June imports increased despite tighter restrictions on Australian coal vessels at major ports in China, as Chinese buyers and traders bought aggressively to play the arbitrage amid a significant price premium for domestic Chinese coal.

Chinese buyers' limited import quota could reduce seaborne procurements in the second half of this year. The long queue of vessels waiting to unload at Jingtang, a major coking coal import hub, is expected to exhaust the port's import quota for the rest of the year.

Mongolian imports reached 2.09mn t in June, down by 22pc from a year earlier but up by 23pc from 1.71mn t in May. Mongolian imports rebounded from their lowest level of 49,780t in March and surpassed the 2mn t mark for the first time in three months, after the country reopened its border in late March and increased the daily number of coal trucks moving through its highway ports.

US imports rose to 337,504t in June, the highest since August 2018. Canadian imports fell to 375,428t in June, down by 28pc from 520,079t a month earlier and by 18pc on the year. Canadian imports rose by 59pc to 2.63mn t in the first half of this year, while US imports increased by 81pc to 667,028t.

Arrivals from Russia moved up by 4pc on the year to 599,266t in June, which were also higher by 60pc from 374,880t in May. Total Russian imports increased by 3pc to 2.9mn t over January-June.

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