BEIJING, June 7 (Reuters) - China’s coal imports in May fell nearly 20% compared with a year earlier even as demand recovered at power plants and industrial users, customs data showed on Sunday.
Analysts and industrial participants had expected China to tighten coal import rules in the second half of 2020 to support domestic miners, and imports starting in July may drop by as much as a quarter from the corresponding 2019 period.
Sunday’s data showed the country imported 22.06 million tonnes of coal last month, according to the General Administration of Customs released on Sunday. That compares with 30.95 million tonnes in April and 27.47 million tonnes in May 2019.
In the first five months of this year, China brought in 148.71 million tonnes of the fuel, up 16.8% from the same period last year.
Electricity consumption has been rising among both industrial and residential users as firms are ramping up production amid the economic recovery after the loosening of restrictions to curb the coronavirus outbreak, while households started to crank up their air conditioning because of warmer weather.
Curtailed hydropower generation, alongside falling water stocks at major reservoirs in the country, also shored up coal demand.
Average daily coal usage at China’s six major coal-fired utilities in coastal regions reached about 628,500 tonnes in May, which is 15% higher than in April and also 7.7% more than a year earlier, according to information from financial data provider Wind. (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Additional Reporting by Yawen Chen; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle)
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