China’s largest coal market in South Africa in February – Goldman Sachs

JOHANNESBURG ( – China was South Africa’s largest coal market in February and took over India, which has traditionally been South Africa’s largest coal export market.

Usually, China doesn’t import coal from South Africa, but there has been a shift in 2021, Mining Weekly reported in early January

“India is the largest export market for South African coal. However, due to the lack of flows to India in February, China was South Africa’s largest export market with 1.25 million tons of coal,” said a March 9 release from Goldman Sachs Equity Research.

South African coal exports to China resumed last year after a five-year hiatus as Chinese importers sought alternatives to Australian coal amid trade tensions.

Quoted Argus, Goldman Sachs Equity Research stated that South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) exported 4.6 million tonnes in February.

Although RBCT shipments rebounded from 2.7 million t in January, they were still down 13% year over year.

The Equity Research Unit added that the state-owned South African rail operator Transnet was working to improve the rail supply to the export terminal after weeks of disruption.

China’s power plants were allowed to import coal from several countries without release restrictions, the Global Times of China reported. This has resulted in 2021 starting on an optimistic note for South African coal.

Thermal coal exports to China were $ 4 billion to Australia in 2019 – and the combined export revenue Australia received from China for both thermal coal and metallurgical coal that year was $ 13.7 billion .

China last bought significant amounts of coal from South Africa in 2014. Thereafter, import duties were levied and in 2015 restrictions on trace elements were imposed.

As reported by Mining Weekly last month, RBCT will do everything in its power to increase its export efficiency to reduce the queuing of ships.

With R1 1.34 billion worth of forklift reclaimers and ship loaders deployed in 2018 that are performing solidly, RBCT has turned to debottlenecking funding projects to accelerate the export side of the business. The Conveyor 931 project, which began last month, includes the introduction of a system to “excessively” move shiploaders with coal.

The first-class coal terminal exported 70.2 million tons of coal to Asia, Africa and Europe in 2020 and expects an export of 77 million tons this year.

RBCT’s shareholder base consists of 15 coal exporters including Anglo Operations, ARM Coal, Exxaro Coal, Glencore Operations South Africa, Junior Miner, Kangra Coal, Koornfontein Mines, Mbokodo, Optimum Coal Terminal, Sasol Mining and South African Coal Mine Holdings, South Dunes Coal Terminal, South32 Coal Holdings, Tumelo Coal Mines, and Umcebo Mining. South32’s transaction with Seriti is nearing completion. In the case of miners, an export claim of 4 million t is allocated, of which, however, only 2.1 million t were used in 2020.

RBCT received its coal from 65 South African mines in 2020, and the coal from these mines was loaded onto 869 ships, 17 fewer than in 2019.

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