As China's coal-consuming enterprises get close to using up their annual coal import quotas, the country's coal imports saw a 38.3 percent plunge in September from the previous year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
In September, China imported 18.68 million tons of coal, a year-on-year decrease of 38.3%, a month-on-month decrease of 1.98 million tons, and the pace of decline expanded by 1 percentage point from the previous month, NBS said.
From January to September, China imported 240 million tons of coal, a year-on-year decrease of 4.4 percent.
The reason for the decline in coal imports was that 2020's coal import quotas are about to be used up, Ren Huiyun, a coal analyst at SCI99 said on Monday.
The exact number of this year's annual quota is not fully clear, but it is expected to be similar with last year. China imported 95.78 million tons of coal in the first quarter, up 28.4 percent year-on-year, and imported 170 million tons of coal in the first six months, up 12.7 percent from a year earlier. The increases show Chinese coal consuming companies sped up consumption to use up this year's quotas.
Indonesia and Australia are China's two largest sources of coal. Ren noted that China reduced Australian coal imports from the second half of the year onward, particularly its thermal coal, which fell 55 percent in August year-on-year.
She added that northeast China currently has a strong demand for coal due to the coming the winter season, so agencies have allocated new quotas for the region.
The NBS said China produced 330 million tons of raw coal in September, a year-on-year decrease of 0.9 percent. The rate of decrease was 0.8 percentage points more than the previous month.
However, imports of crude oil and natural gas rose in September. China imported 48.48 million tons of crude oil in the month, a year-on-year increase of 17.6 percent, with the pace of that increase expanding by 5.0 percentage points compared to the increase of the previous month.
China imported 8.66 million tons of natural gas in September, a year-on-year increase of 5.5 percent, though the growth rate dropped by 7.7 percentage points from the previous month.