News wire – A total of 80.32 million tonnes of all grades of coal was discharged at Asian ports in July, according to vessel-tracking and port data from Refinitiv.
This was up from 80.16 million in June and 78.58 million in May, and was the strongest month since January, when winter demand was at its peak.
The total for the three months to July was 240.06 million tonnes, up 7.8% from the 222.79 million for the same three months in 2020.
That extra 17.27 million tonnes of demand in the three months to July helps explain why coal prices have been on a tear in recent weeks.
Benchmark high-grade Australian thermal coal, the type favoured by Asia’s long-standing importers Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, rose to a 13-year high of $153.41 a tonne in the week to Aug. 6, and has tripled since its 2020 low of $46.37 in September.
Lower-quality Indonesian thermal coal, which has been bought heavily by China in the wake of Beijing’s ban on buying Australian cargoes, rose to $69.53 a tonne in the week to Aug. 6, the highest on record since commodity price reporting agency Argus
China has been leading the current demand surge for coal, partly as a result of closing some domestic mines for safety checks.
China, the world’s biggest producer, consumer and importer of coal, brought in 30.18 million tonnes in July, a seven-month high, according to official data.
Data from commodity analysts Kpler also showed strong gains in imports in Japan, the region’s third-biggest buyer, with 15.39 million tonnes arriving in July, the most since January.
Fourth-ranked South Korea imported 11.62 million tonnes in July, the most since December 2019, while number five Taiwan brought in 6.78 million, the highest since September 2020, according to Kpler.