Singapore — China imported 27.08 million mt of coal, including lignite, thermal and metallurgical coal, in September, up 7.2% from August and up 11% year on year, according to preliminary data released Friday by China's General Administration of Customs.
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In comparison, China's August coal imports stood at 25.27 million mt in August and 24.44 million mt in September 2016.
Over January-September, total imports rose 14% year on year to 204.85 million mt.
"Total coal imports climbed to 27 million mt, the highest September in the past five years, up 10.8% year on year on the back of rising export volumes from Indonesia and Australia and China's tightened domestic market," Citi analysts said in a note. "Thermal coal import arbs opened for a short period of time in September."
Citi analysts said the ongoing intense safety inspections on coal mines and upcoming suspensions of some open-pit mining activities before the 19th People's Congress next week should further tighten the Chinese coal market.
"Yet, coal demand should weaken by the end of the year due to environmental crackdowns on industrial activities and supply cuts in steel production," the analysts said. "This could in part ease tightened market and lessen demand for coal imports by the end of the year."
The country exported 690,000 mt of coal in September, up 9.5% from 630,000 mt in the same month last year.
Exports over January-September rose 4.8% year on year to 6.6 million mt, compared with 6.3 million mt in 2016.
A breakdown of the September imports and exports will be released later this month.