Steam coal buyers worldwide significantly increase coal purchases from South Africa; as the effective date of the EU ban on Russian coal imports by coal buyers worldwide draws near, European thermal coal buyers are actively snapping coal in the market as an alternative to the state of coal supply shortage. In the first five months of this year, buyers of steam coal from European countries imported 40% more coal purchases from South Africa’s major coal export ports than last year.
From January to May this year, European country’s direct coal buyers imported 3,240,800 tons of coal from the South African port of Richards Bay. Direct coal buyers‘ coal imports accounted for 15% of the port’s total exports, while the 2021 European region coal buyers‘ coal imports were 2,231,200 tons, accounting for 4% of the port’s total annual coal exports.
In early April this year, 27 EU member states reached a consensus on several measures proposed by the European Commission for the fifth round of sanctions against Russia previously issued, including coal buyers worldwide stopping purchasing Russian coal and banning Russian vessels from entering EU ports.
However, on the issue of banning coal buyers worldwide from importing coal from Russia, the parties decided to postpone the coal purchase ban from taking effect until mid-August, more than a month later than initially planned, to give some member states’ coal buyers enough time to find alternative supply channels.
European coal buyers Significantly Increase Coal Purchases From South Africa.
Since this year, coal buyers from the Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Poland, and other countries had imported coal from South Africa, especially since late February, when the conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out, and coal buyers from European countries have seen a significant increase in coal imports from the Port of Richards Bay in South Africa.
Dutch coal buyers did not import coal from the Port of Richards Bay from January to February this year. Still, from March to May, coal buyers’ imports from the port reached 1.27 million tons, and coal buyers’ imports increased month by month, making it the fourth-largest coal export destination for mounting 5.76% of total coal exports.
From January to May, French coal buyers‘ imports from the Port of Richards Bay increased nearly sevenfold year-on-year to 464,400 tons, compared to coal buyers’ annual coal imports of 68,000 tons in 2021.
In 2021, Spanish, Polish, and German coal buyers did not import coal from Richards Bay Port, while in the first five months of this year, coal importers from the above countries imported 355,300 tons, 181,500 tons, and 157,400 tons of coal from Richards Bay Port, respectively.
In addition, Japanese coal importers also said they would stop importing Russian coal. In the first five months of this year, Japanese coal buyers imported 388,200 tons of coal from Richards Bay port, which is almost two times last year’s annual coal import volume.
On March 11, Indonesia’s 3800-calorie Panama-type thermal coal was also in short supply but not purchased by Chinese Coal Buyers.
As global coal prices soar, driven by tensions between Russia and Ukraine, some Chinese coal buyers are trying to shift to Russian coal.
Chinese Coal Buyers shipped 1.37 million tons of coking coal from Russia in April this year, and Chinese Coal Buyers are importing high-quality Russian coking coal at ports in northern China. In addition to Russia, other significant suppliers of coking coal to Chinese coal buyers are Indonesia, Mongolia, the United States, Canada, and Australia.
The increased demand for coal imports, combined with the sharp rise in international coal prices this year, has driven South African miners’ willingness to export coal. Since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, local South African coal producers have struggled to increase production.
However, affected by improper maintenance, shortage of trains, and theft of copper cables, South Africa’s rail transport capacity has been running at a low level, the local coal mines to Richards Bay port of coal transportation is blocked, and some miners are using trucks to transport coal to the port.
Data show that from January to May this year, South Africa Richards Bay port coal exports of 220.576 million tons; according to this level, the annual coal exports this year will be about 53 million tons, since last year’s record low after falling again to a new low since 1996.