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China Considers Relaxing Ban On Imports Of Australian Coal

China is considering a partial easing of its more than two-year ban on imports of coal from Australia amid signs of improving bilateral relations, sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission discussed this week the idea to allow four large Chinese coal importers to make new purchases of Australian coal this year, Bloomberg’s sources said, noting that such imports could resume as early as April this year.   

The four importers that could potentially be allowed to buy Australian coal are China Baowu Steel Group Corp, China Datang Corporation, China Huaneng Group Co, and China Energy Investment Corporation, according to Bloomberg.  

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China enacted an unofficial ban on Australian coal in October 2020 after Australia backed a call for an international inquiry into the way China handled the initial COVID outbreak in early 2020.  

In recent months, China has significantly boosted its coal production, following government orders for more coal supply. Faced with power shortages in the autumn of 2021, Chinese authorities ordered an increase in domestic coal production as global coal prices soared.

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China has put more emphasis on energy security since the autumn of 2021. In 2022, China said it would continue to maximize the use of coal in the coming years as it caters to its energy security, despite pledges to contribute to global efforts to reduce emissions.

Coal prices further jumped after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the EU ban as of August 2022 on imports of coal from Russia as part of the fifth round of EU sanctions against Moscow. The package includes “a prohibition to purchase, import or transfer coal and other solid fossil fuels into the EU if they originate in Russia or are exported from Russia, as from August 2022.” 

China’s daily coal production hit a record high in November 2022 as demand for heating jumped, beating the previous record set in September 2022.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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