China is ramping up coal imports from Russia — but not Australia

This photograph taken on October 24, 2021 reveals coal being loaded on a cargo ship in Jiujiang, in China’s central Jiangxi province.

STR | AFP | Getty Photos

BEIJING — As China tries to resolve its energy scarcity, the nation can also be ramping up its coal imports — bringing in 3 times as a lot coal from Russia in comparison with final yr, China customs information present.

Studies of power cuts at factories across China intensified in September as native governments struggled to steadiness rising demand for electrical energy with efforts to scale back carbon emissions. Preliminary commerce information confirmed China’s imports of coal surged by 76% from a year ago in September to 32.9 million tons.

New customs information out late Tuesday confirmed that a lot of the coal got here from Russia and Indonesia — not Australia. In 2019, the nation had accounted for about 38% of China’s imports of thermal coal, the first gas for electrical energy manufacturing.

China’s thermal coal imports surge (2018-2021)

Supply: Wind

China imported about 3.7 million tons of thermal coal from Russia in September, in response to customs information accessed via Wind Info. That is up 28% from August and greater than 230% increased than a yr in the past.

The surge is just not a one-off. China’s imports of thermal coal from Russia have both doubled or tripled from 2020 ranges each month since Could. The month-to-month figures this yr additionally stay nicely above pre-pandemic ranges in 2019.

“This demonstrates that China nonetheless wants the worldwide commerce system, regardless of its concerted efforts to scale back its dependence on commerce,” stated Stephen Olson, senior analysis fellow on the Hinrich Basis, a nonprofit group targeted on commerce points.

“It additionally illustrates the financial prices and dislocations that may be created when commerce restrictions are used as a way to use geopolitical stress,” he stated in an electronic mail.

Despite China’s increased need for coal, the customs company’s information confirmed imports of thermal coal from Australia remained zero, as they’ve been since an unofficial ban passed off in late 2020.

Australia was as soon as China’s largest supply of imported coal. However political tensions between the 2 nations escalated after Australia supported an investigation into how Beijing dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.

China imported 3 million tons of thermal coal from Indonesia final month, up 19% from August and a achieve of 89% from September 2020, customs information confirmed.

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