COLUMN-China trims appetite for coal imports, but prices hold up – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 4 (Reuters) – There are indications that China’s appetite for imported coal may be starting to ease in line with Beijing’s efforts to limit the use of the fuel over winter in a bid to lower air pollution.

China’s seaborne imports were 18.26 million tonnes in November, down from 20 million in October, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts.

It’s the fourth consecutive monthly decline for seaborne coal imports, according to the data, and it comes as the authorities impose productions cuts on coal-consuming industries such as steel.

The vessel-tracking data doesn’t align exactly with official customs data given it excludes coal that is imported by rail or road, and also because of minor differences as to when cargoes are assessed as having been discharged.

However, it has proven a reliable indicator of China’s seaborne imports and the November data shows the decline to be fairly broadly-based. Shipments from top supplier Indonesia declined to 9.13 million tonnes in November from October’s 10.11 million and 9.63 million in September.

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