Chinese imports of Russian thermal coal decreased last year as the country switched to lower-priced material from elsewhere, primarily Indonesia.
Thermal coal receipts from Russia, including lignite, fell by 7pc or 1.16mn t on the year to 15.94mn t in 2018, despite a rise in China's overall thermal coal imports, Chinese customs data show.
Imports of thermal coal from Russia fell last year amid greater competition from other origins. Prices for Russian NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal on a fob basis were higher than Indonesian and Australian-origin material, and the difference increased in the second half of 2018.
Chinese import restrictions introduced in mid-November also affected Russian supplies, reducing them in November-December compared with the same period of 2017.
China's overall imports of thermal coal reached 207.8mn t last year, up by 9pc or 16.47mn t on the year, thanks to higher receipts from Indonesia and Australia — two major origins of thermal coal imports into the country.
As a result, the share of Russian product in Chinese thermal coal imports fell to 8pc in 2018, from 9pc a year earlier, while Indonesia boosted its share by 4 percentage points to 60pc. Australia's share remained unchanged at 25pc.