Japan's coking coal imports rose in December to an eight-month high on increased shipments from Indonesia, underpinned by the strong recovery of Japan's steel industry.
Japan imported 5.63mn t of coking coal in December, up by 1pc from November but down by 10pc from a year earlier, according to finance ministry data. January-December imports fell by 9pc from a year earlier to 63.3mn t.
Shipments from the largest supplier Australia fell by 5pc to 2.84mn t in December from 3mn t last month but increased by 13pc from a year earlier. Arrivals from Indonesia surged to 1.64mn t in December, an increase of 71pc from the previous month and by 5pc from a year earlier, as Japanese steel producers sought to diversify their coking coal import sources to minimise risk exposure. December crude steel output also continued to increase as steel demand from the car industry recovered, despite continuing pressure from the country's Covid-19 emergency measures.
Argus' spot price assessment for premium low-volatile hard coking coal averaged $102.17/t fob Australia in December, down by 1.1pc from $103.29/t in November.
Japan's metallurgical coke imports hit an 18-month high of 119,412t in December, the largest monthly intake since July 2019 with 140,307t. The December imports were an increase of 261pc from the previous month and 255pc from a year earlier. Almost all of Japan's met coke imports came from China.
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