BEIJING, Oct 14 (Reuters) - China’s coal imports in September dropped 8.1% from a month earlier, as traders held up purchases amid an increase in domestic supply and slowing demand for the fuel from power generation companies.
Arrivals of coal, including thermal and coking coal, last month were 30.29 million tonnes, data released by the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday. Shipments stood at 32.95 million tonnes in August.
Imports were up 20.5% from 25.14 million tonnes in September last year.
In the January to September period, China, the world’s top coal consumer, took in 250.57 million tonnes of coal, up 9.5% from the same period in 2018, the customs data showed.
High levels of coal imports in the past months have been a cause of worry for traders, as they fear authorities would tighten imports for the rest of this year.
Government policy, although never stated publicly, requires that annual imports do not exceed the previous year’s level.
In 2018, China brought in a total of 281.23 million tonnes of coal.
Traders expect consumption will not significantly rise until November when the northern part of the country switches on their heating systems.
However, Beijing has been continuing to push forward the conversion of coal-fired heating facilities in northern cities to gas- or electric-powered systems.
An additional 4.93 million households are planned to shut down their coal-fired heaters this winter, according to a draft plan issued by central government.
Meanwhile, the eastern portion of the Russia-to-China gas pipeline, known as ‘the Power of Siberia’, is estimated to launch at the beginning of December, providing a supplemental source of heating fuel in northern China.