China exported 5.25 million tons of coal in October, a growth of 18.8 percent on the same month of last year, sources with the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday, and it expects prices to remain high over the next quarter.
Guo Yuntao, head of China Research Center of Coal Industry Development, attributed the export growth in October to price rises on international markets.
Guo said coal used for power projects, which was supplied by Australian enterprises, had been priced at US$70-US$80 per ton, higher than China's average at 500 yuan (US$67.3) or so.
Guo said the price would remain high on global markets in the fourth quarter, when coal consumption peaked usually.
According to the customs sources, this was only the second month which saw China's coal export grow so far this year. The other month was July, when coal export soared 26.2 percent year-on-year.
China discontinued refunding of export duties on coal late last year, in a bid to ensure domestic supply of the fossil fuel.
Customs data show between January and October China exported 43.26 million tons of coal, down 17.6 percent from a year earlier.
In the first nine months, the nation's net coal imports amounted to 600,000 tons.
Guo said in 2002 China ranked second in coal exports worldwide, but it was likely to see a balance between import and export for the whole of this year.
In the longer run, China's coal export has tended to decrease, Guo said.
In a related development, China exported 13.15 million tons of coke and semi-coke in the January-October period, up 9.4 percent on the same period of last year.
The export value increased by 50.1 percent to US$2.48 billion from US$1.65 billion a year earlier.
The growth in export value was a direct result of price rises for coke on international markets, some market observers said, who ascribed the price rises to mounting demand, higher freight cost and rising prices of coal for coking.
Guo said the China factor contributed significantly to the price rises for coke.
The country, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the world's coke exports, has shut down numerous small coking workshops as a move to reduce pollution. The result has been a reduction in supply for international markets.
(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2007)