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Europe is ramping up coal shipments from around the world amid a proposed European Union ban on imports from Russia and a fight to reduce gas shortages.

The European Commission on Tuesday proposed new sanctions against Moscow, including a ban on the purchase of Russian coal and a ban on Russian ships entering EU ports.

The new restrictions come at a time of uncertainty over future Russian gas supplies to the EU later this month after the Kremlin demanded that buyers start paying in rubles.

In March, European countries imported a total of 7.1 million tons of thermal coal, which is used to generate electricity and heat, up 40.5% from last year and the highest level since March 2019, according to an analysis by the broker Braemar ACM.

Braemar data showed that the EU imported 3.5 million tons of Russian thermal coal in March, the highest monthly figure since October 2020.

According to Braemar, the weekly period from March 28 to April 1 saw the highest level of Russian thermal coal imports since the invasion began on February 24, with 887,000 tons of Russian thermal coal imported into the EU.

Colombian thermal coal imports totaled 1.3 million tonnes in March, up 47.3% year-on-year, data from Braemar showed.

U.S. imports totaled 809,000 tons in March, up 30.3% year on year and reaching the highest level since October 2019.

Imports from South Africa have also increased, with 287,000 tons arriving in March compared to no shipments in March last year.

Australia has also detected a renewed buying interest from Europe with thermal coal imports totaling 537,000 tons in the first quarter of this year, compared to no supplies for the same period in 2021.

But Indonesia and Australia, among the world’s largest coal exporters, have reached their production limits and are unlikely to be able to meet Europe’s need for additional supplies if the European Union bans Russian coal imports, mining executives said.