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China imposes restrictions on coal imports at southern ports

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China imposes restrictions on coal imports at southern ports

Singapore — Thermal and coking coal imports at ports in southern China, includingFangcheng and Xiamen, came under restrictions over the weekend, market sourcessaid Monday.

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Mill sources said that port authorities had told them informally thatseveral ports would no longer be able to receive any imported coal, whileothers may have certain restrictions imposed.

Sources said ports in Fujian province -- Xiamen, Quanzhou and Meizhou --would no longer be able to receive any coal imports. A mill source in Fujianprovince said that he had received verbal confirmation late Friday eveningfrom customs officials, but was unable to get any specific details on therestrictions.

With Xiamen port coming under restrictions, the steel mill source said itcould no longer consider seaborne coking coal despite it being cheaper thandomestic material.

A Xiamen-based trader said that the port restrictions were aimed atlimiting thermal coal imports as there were ample stocks at the port.

Other ports such as Fangcheng and Zhoushan in East China were allowed tohandle imported coal, but under restrictions, sources said.

More details were, however, unclear, they said, adding that they hadreceived the news only on Monday morning. A mill source said that unloading ofvessels at Fangcheng port might face delays as a result of the restrictions.

The authorities were likely to review coal import volumes on a monthlybasis and change the restrictions accordingly, a trader said, adding that thisincreased uncertainty about the impact on the market.

End-users who import directly might be allowed to negotiate, but not thetraders as far as imports through certain ports were concerned, a miner sourcesaid.

The restrictions were likely to be in place for the next six months, asteelmaker source said, adding that it would take that long for domesticthermal coal prices to stabilize.

China's domestic 5,500 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal was assessed at Yuan555/mt FOB Qinhuangdao last Friday, down Yuan 85/mt month on month.

As for coking coal, Platts assessed Premium Low Vol CFR China at $199/mtFriday, down $5/mt on the week.

S&P Global Platts assessed the CFR China equivalent of Shanxi PLV at$225.26/mt on April 11, putting the spread between domestic and seaborneprices at $26.26/mt, with seaborne coal being the cheaper material.

--Weng Yile,

--Elizabeth Low,

--Edited by E Shailaja Nair,