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Newcastle coal exports rise despite Chinese demand uncertainty

23 Apr 2012 16:18:35 | csd

Coal shipments from Australia's Newcastle port rose by 6.6% week on week to 2.91m tonnes in the seven-day period ending on 23 April, according to the port's operations report.

Despite the increase in tonnes handled, the number of vessels entering the port dropped to 29 from 31 in the previous week, which reduced the average waiting time by two days to 10.2 days. The number of vessels off the port waiting to load was unchanged at 16.

The increased number of vessels loaded with coal in April pushed total shipments so far this month to just under 9m tonnes, up from the 7.7m tonnes shipped in the same period a year ago.

Japan remains one of the only Asian countries interested in high quality 6,000kCal/kg Australian coal. China - which is in the market for the 5,500kCal/kg Australian coal - remains unpredictable, with traders reporting sporadic spot deals that depend solely on how attractive the price is to the Chinese traders.

Last week, participants reported that the key industry conference in Beijing ended on a dull note, with no expected increase in demand seen yet (see CSD 19 April 2012).

Hopes that Japan will ramp up its coal-fired generation also seem unfounded as figures by the Federation of Electricity Power Companies (FEPC) of Japan show that in the 2011 fiscal year, Japanese coal imports fell by 5.7% to 49.2m tonnes from 52.2m tonnes imported in fiscal year 2010.

Although thermal power generation rose by 25% year on year, most of the lost nuclear power generation was compensated with an increase in LNG demand, figures show. MV

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