Beijing wants to take advantage of steep discounts, experts say
Russian seaborne coal deliveries to China soared 55% to 6.2 million tons in the first 28 days of June compared to the same period last year, S&P's Commodities at Sea database shows. In May, supplies were also up, rising 20% year-on-year to 5.5 million tons.
"Despite lower demand and higher domestic coal production, China has been buying significantly [more] Russian coal since May 2022," S&P Global Market Intelligence Associate Director Pranay Shukla told CNBC. "This is because Russia has been offering very steep discounts on prevailing international coal prices."
Shukla pointed out that overall coal imports into mainland China were lower due to reduced demand amid strict Covid lockdown policies.
China is Russia's largest coal buyer, taking in more than 50 million tons of the commodity worth $7.4 billion last year via rail and sea from Russia's Far East, according to data. Russia accounted for roughly 15% of China's total imports and was its second-largest supplier behind Indonesia.
Nearly half of the imports from Russia are metallurgical coal and Chinese buyers are interested in importing more supplies despite the struggle to secure financing from state banks worried about potential sanctions.
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