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China’s January-February Coal Imports Soar 71% After Tightening COVID-19 Restrictions

China’s coal imports have surged by 71% in the first two months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, as the country’s utilities sector restocks to meet rising demand. According to data from China’s Customs Administration (GAC), the country imported 60.64 million tonnes of coal between January and February, up from 35.39 million tonnes in 2022.

The increase in coal imports follows the cancellation of China’s zero COVID policy and the subsequent economic recovery, which has led to a rise in energy and coal consumption. China, the world’s largest coal consumer, has increased purchases of cheap thermal coal from Indonesia, while imports from Mongolia have also risen after China eased restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Wood Analyst Mackenzie had predicted in December that China’s coal demand would grow by 2% this year. The easing of China’s informal ban on Australian coal imports in January has also contributed to the rise in coal imports. This move followed efforts to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Maritime tracking data has shown that at least eight ships carrying 700,000 tonnes of Australian coal have docked in Chinese ports since the easing of restrictions. However, the coal still needs to go through customs before it can be used.

The increase in China’s coal imports is expected to continue as the country’s economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

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