China extends full open gesture to imported coal except for Australia
By Chi Jingyi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/13 21:03:40
Domestic, overseas suppliers will take up share with easier clearance
China's top economic planner on Saturday gave approval to power plants to import coal without clearance restrictions, except for Australia, in a bid to stabilize coal purchase prices.
Analysts said that China has various sources of coal, including Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia. Moreover, China is reducing coal use to curb carbon emissions, which will mean lower demand for coal in the next few decades.
The National Development and Reform Commission said in a meeting with 10 major power enterprises that the coal purchase price should not exceed 640 yuan ($97.8) per ton and it ordered power plants to share inventory to reduce the purchase of high-priced coal in the market. At present, the inventory of coal at key power plants is about 86 million tons.
Wang Yongzhong, director of the Institute of Energy Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that China has stable and sufficient domestic coal supply, while having rich import sources.
"China's major coal import source countries used to be Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia. Since Mongolia has a geographic advantage that allows lower transportation costs than any other exporters, it could take a large share from Australian coal, as the relationship between China and Australia has been deteriorating and Australia is gradually losing the Chinese market. Domestic suppliers can also grab some market share," Wang told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that even the US and Canada could be import sources, though they are the last choices as transportation costs would be very high.
China has been the biggest coal importer in the world for over 10 years, with imports of 299.674 million tons in 2019, up 6.3 percent from a year earlier. From January to November, China's coal imports were 264.826 million tons, down 10.8 percent year-on-year, according to statistics of the General Administration of Customs.
Ma Tao, a manager of the steel raw material department of Mitsubishi Corp (China) Co, told the Global Times on Sunday that the company stopped importing coal from Australia two years ago because of worsening relations between China and Australia.
"Now we all use domestic coal, which has a stable supply. Our company currently has no plan for other sources of coal imports," Ma added.
A manager surnamed Chen at a company that provides carbon emission reduction solutions told the Global Times that some clients with businesses related to coal only use domestic sources, while some others have up to 50 percent supply from imports. So far, no clients have reported any shortage.
"China planned to reduce 100 million tons of coal consumption annually by 2030 to finally accomplish its carbon-neutral goal before 2060, which means fading demand in the coal market. An absence of Australian coal in China is actually beneficial to all other market suppliers," said Wang.
Contracts for a total of 740 million tons of coal were signed at the China Taiyuan Coal Trade Fair on Tuesday in North China's Shanxi Province, a major domestic coal production base.
Apart from domestic coal suppliers, exporters are also eyeing the Chinese market. The latest example is Indonesia, which struck a $1.46 billion coal deal with China in November. The Indonesian Coal Mining Association said in 2021, coal exports to China will increase by 200 million tons.
Russian suppliers plan to increase production to export more to China.
In addition to traditional exporters, newcomers like Kazakhstan have emerged. Kazakhstan's Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development announced plans to increase coal output to 120 million tons this year, with 38 million tons for export.
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