For the first time in over two years, China has received a shipment of coal from Australia.
China first looked to ease the ban on Australian coal in early January as the country planned to expand its options for obtaining more coal for its power and steel plants.
This came to fruition on January 9 when China Energy Investment Corp placed a breakthrough order.
Two weeks later, Coronado Global Resources reported that multiple Chinese companies had come knocking on its doors to buy coal.
Now the weeks of speculation have come to end, with 72,000 tonnes of coal arriving at the port of Zhanjiang, a city in China’s south.
The coal was purchased by Chinese company Boasteel.
“We will of course need to see that (the coal) is unloaded and passes through customs processes in a normal way… that will be very welcomed if it is the case,” Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham told ABC Radio.
The decision to ban Australian imports, coal chief among them, into China was first made at the end of 2020 with then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the ban on coal would be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.
However, this was not the case, and the ban remained throughout 2021 and 2022.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission held talks in January on proposals to allow four major importers – China Baowu Steel Group Corp., China Datang Corp., China Huaneng Group Co. and China Energy Investment Corp – to make new purchases in 2023.
Boasteel was not among the four major importers, signalling that these allowances were since changed.
Purchasing was also reported to start in April, but the recent shipment marks a change to this as well.
Only time will tell if other Chinese companies will follow Boasteel’s lead.