Port of Newcastle’s coal exports increased 5% during the first quarter of 2019, reaching 27.3m tonnes. Namely, March volumes rose 0.5m tonnes year on year to 9.1m tonnes, in spite of worries about customs delays that could affect exports to China. In comparison to February, March volumes were up by 0.2m tonnes.
According to sources, customs delays in China spread to other ports as well and have now reached three months, despite the fact that Australia and China denied any policy regarding Australian coal.
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As a matter of fact, Port of Waratah coal services data indicated that China increased its share of Newcastle coal exports in the first three months of the year, in comparison to the same period in 2018.
Specifically, China took 12% exports from Australia’s main coal shipping port, while in 2018 it had taken 11%. Japan is still the biggest consumer with 51% of exports, but its share fell 4% since last year’s volumes.
In addition, Taiwan and South Korea also increased their share of Newcastle coal volumes, receiving 17% and 12% respectively. These figures were 4% and 1% more year on year.
Regarding Newcastle, its inventories stood at 1.7m tonnes at the end of March, growing 0.3m tonnes on February’s levels, but reducing 0.1m tonnes from the same time in 2018.
What is more, the number of ships awaiting to take delivery from the port reduced to five by the end of the month, while at the end of February they were 15. Now, Port authorities expect the queue to remain at five by the end of April.
These delays have put pressure in Newcastle prices, which are lower in recent months, according to Commonwealth Bank energy commodities analyst Vivek Dhar.