Reuters has revealed that China's coal imports from Russia were at their highest in nearly three years in March, according to customs data showed on Tuesday, as the world's top buyer sourced alternative suppliers following its ban on imports from North Korea in February.
Arrivals from Russia gained 19.5% to 2.3 million t, which is the highest monthly total since June 2014, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
North Korea did not ship any coal last month, it said, in line with comments from customs earlier this month. A year ago, China imported 2.38 million t of coal from the country.
The data also showed a spike from February onwards by other major importers, Australia, Mongolia and Indonesia, reflecting a shift in trade routes after China's sudden decision to ban all coal imports from North Korea. That followed repeated missile tests by Pyongyang that drew international criticism.
Overall coal imports are shown to have risen, amid strong demand from steel mills, where output climbed to a record last month, and rallying domestic coking coal prices.
This higher steel output raises further concerns about metallurgical coal supply after China banned high-quality anthracite imports from North Korea that are typically used for steel making.
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