Early Signs of China's Renewed Demand for Australian Coal

Early Signs of China's Renewed Demand for Australian Coal
Photo by Rab Lawrence

Bulk carriers destined for Chinese ports are now making their way back to one of the largest terminals on the eastern seaboard, signaling a potential easing of Beijing's unofficial two-year ban on Australian fossil fuel exports, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

This follows China's recent decision to allow three state-owned power utilities and a steelmaker to resume sourcing coal from Australia, leading to growing optimism within the mining industry that the ban could be fully lifted within weeks.

In 2020, worsening diplomatic relations between the two world powers resulted in China imposing high tariffs on a variety of Australian products, such as wine and barley.

A complete ban on Australian coal caused numerous vessels to be marooned off the coast without access to ports. As a result, global trade patterns shifted, leading Australian coal producers to divert their shipments to other markets.

Two years later competition for Australian shipments was intensified as Western countries refused to buy Russian coal amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In 2022, Dalrymple Bay’s Hay Point port on the central coast of Queensland shipped a total of 53.3 million tons of coal. Out of this amount, three-quarters were dispatched to Japan, South Korea, Europe, and India.

Nevertheless, the company informed its investors on Monday that vessels bound for China have been docking at the port since the start of February.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, several companies have seen surge in coal-related inquiries from China in the recent weeks, raising hopes for the revival of export in the beginning of March.