China’s average daily coal imports from Russia rose in the first two months of 2023 compared with December, boosted by strong restocking demand as Beijing lifted its zero-COVID regime, but logistics bottlenecks still capped shipments.
Arrivals of Russian coal reached 14.8 million tonnes, or 250,892 tonnes per day, during January and February, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday, making Russia China’s second-biggest coal supplier.
That compares to 222,346 tonnes per day in December and 110,470 tonnes per day over the first two months in 2022.
China sharply increased coal imports from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine as Western countries shunned trade with Moscow, which pushed down Russian coal prices and attracted buyers that did not implement sanctions.
But transport infrastructure limitations in Russia have hampered coal exports to China since October and traders expect the situation to continue.
The customs data also showed 207,236 tonnes of Australian coal entered China in February, the first since Beijing lifted an unofficial ban in early January, as the two countries seek to rebuild ties.
More Australian coal cargoes, mostly thermal coal for power generation, are expected to reach China this month and in April, traders said.
The resumption of Australian coal imports is unlikely to make significant changes to China’s coal supply structure amid fierce competition from cheaper Russian cargoes and increasing supplies from China’s domestic mines.
Indonesia remained the biggest coal supplier to China during the first two months of 2023. China took in 34.78 million tonnes of Indonesian coal in January and February, up 83% from a low base in 2022, the customs data showed.