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SINGAPORE: China’s coal imports from Australia eased in June from May’s 33-month-high but remained supported by attractive prices and strong demand from utilities for high-quality thermal coal amid a scorching summer.

June imports totalled 4.83 million metric tons, of which 4.61 million metric tons was thermal coal and 217,275 metric tons was coking coal, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.

June’s volume was lower than the 5.42 million metric tons in May, a level last seen in August 2020.

China’s power plants favour Australian coal for its high-energy content, which allows utilities to produce more electricity than the same amount of low quality coal.

The persistent heat across China since June has driven up power demand for cooling, driving the maximum daily power load for several regions to record highs. Prices of Australian coal fell amid tepid demand in Europe and other Asian countries, making it more competitive against China’s domestic supplies. Arrivals of Australian coal to China are likely to reach more than 7.2 million metric tons in July, according to shipping data from Refinitiv and Kpler, as power demand peaks in the summer. China’s imports of Russian coal touched a record high of 10.65 million metric tons in June, customs data showed on Thursday. Despite solid demand for imported coal, shipments from Indonesia, China’s biggest coal supplier, fell for a third consecutive month in June to 16.32 million metric tons of mostly low-energy content thermal coal.

Customs data also showed coal imports from Mongolia at 5.24 million metric tons in June, up from 4.54 million metric tons in the prior month.

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