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Global Coal Roundup: Surge in India's thermal coal import boosts Asian demand

A roundup of international coal news from May 7 30 to May 14.

ASIA

India: India’s thermal coal imports increased over 15% in the first three months of 2018 which has helped to bolster higher demand across Asia, pushing benchmark Australian coal cargo prices above $100 per tonne, Reuters reported May 11. India's imports rose to 39.6 million tonnes during the three months ended March 31, up about 15% from the year ago figure, the report said, citing data from Dubai-based American Fuels, a supplier of coal from the United States. Reuters said the country will likely boost its 2018 thermal coal imports after two straight years of declines due to domestic logistic bottlenecks, regulatory changes and surging power demand.

Japan: Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd. will not provide financing for overseas projects dependent on coal, Bloomberg News reported May 10. An executive at another Japanese financial institution, Nippon Life Insurance Co. said in April that the company is contemplating ending new loans and investment in projects that contribute to climate change, the report said. Several financial institutions around the world have already ceased or cut back on funding fossil fuel projects. HSBC Holdings PLC in April said it will halt financing new coal power plants, joining similar pledges by Société Générale SA and Deutsche Bank AG.

China: Chinese coal imports in April fell 17% month on month to 22.28 million tonnes, Reuters reported May 8, citing preliminary data from the General Administration of Customs. The decline was driven by weaker demand from power plants as the winter heating season eased. It also follows tighter antipollution restrictions on coal imports in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Guangxi and Fujian, where the nation's largest coastal power plants are located, the report said.

Indonesia: Indonesia's coal production is projected to increase 4% year over year to roughly 481 million tonnes in 2018 but remain flat in 2019 amid shortages of heavy equipment and parts, Reuters reported May 7. An executive from mining services contractor BIS Industries told Reuters the waiting times for 200-tonne excavators are around 12 months, and the shortages are making it difficult for miners to increase production and take advantage of recent improvements in coal prices.