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Pilbara Ports

Port Hedland

Thermal and coking coal production has helped the overall balance of goods and services to record levels in July, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) trade data.

Combined exports for thermal and coking coal reached almost $4.7 billion in July, which was 58 per cent higher than July 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions and tense trade debate with China hampered results.

These positive results were hampered, however, by a drop in iron ore exports which fell 5 per cent on June’s levels to $17.13 billion in July.

Iron ore exports of $104.4 billion had been strong in the first half of 2021, compared to almost $61 billion for the first half of 2020. This came as a result of higher spot prices for the commodity.

This was helped by Port Hedland’s output of 45.8 million tonnes of iron ore shipments during the April quarter.

However, as prices have since fallen around 40 per cent, export value has now slowed down.

Bulk energy and minerals exports made up 68 per cent of Australia’s total merchandise exports for July, setting a record of $41.26 billion.

Australia’s trade balance with China rose to $12.24 billion as exports rose to $19.4 billion.

This balance was almost four times the level at the same time last year, which was a measly $3.6 billion in July 2020.

As Chinese trade continued to stabilise in July 2021, South Korea was Australia’s most valued recipient for iron ore fines and lump, while Japan received the most high rank and semi-soft coal from Australia.

The Federal Government’s Resources and Energy June Quarterly reported earlier this year that trade tensions with China were returning to normal.

“Supply chains disrupted by China’s informal import restrictions have largely reorganised, albeit with some loss of revenue,” the Quarterly stated.