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China’s coal imports decline from Australian Newcastle's PWCS terminals

04 Mar 2013 17:52:53 | csd

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A drop-off in Chinese imports and a two-day strike action in February pushed the amount of coal exported from the two Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) terminals at the port of Newcastle in eastern Australia down by 22% month on month to 7.94m tonnes, the company said on Monday.

The tonnage shipped to China by the Carrington and Kooragang terminals declined noticeably, with Chinese buyers importing 1.04m tonnes, down by 43.48% from 1.84m tonnes in January.

That drop can be explained partly by the mid-month lunar new year celebrations, which traditionally mute activity by Chinese market participants.

A two-day strike by rail workers for Australian freight company Pacific Union also made a dent in the export figure.

Healthy exports to South Korea and Taiwan helped mitigate the month's decline. South Korea imported more coal from the PWCS terminals than China, while Taiwan also took a large percentage of their tonnage.

Prices at the Australian FOB Newcastle physical market have been a little stronger at the front end recently.

On Monday, an April-loading cargo broke out of the recent $92-94/tonne range to trade at $94.25/tonne, broker globalCOAL said. Expectations of heavy rain have bumped up prices for the front month.

The Carrington and Kooragang terminals have a combined export capacity of 40m tonnes/year. Steam coal accounted for 85% of their February exports.

The PWCS data refer to exports from its own two terminals only and do not account for coal exported from the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group's terminal at the port, which has capacity to export 53m tonnes/year. Annual capacity will eventually reach 66m tonnes. Fionn O'Raghallaigh

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