London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 10 February 2010 – South African coal exports to India from Richards Bay Coal Terminal fell 39% in January from December’s levels, while shipments to China plunged 55% after China’s end-2009 buying spree at the end of 2009.
Revealing these figures here, exporters said China’s buying at the end of last year was unusual, prompted by severe weather and disruption of domestic supply, but they added that the fall in Indian imports should not be read as a drop in demand which remains strong.
“The Chinese were out in force in December when a large volume of South African coal was snapped up,” one major exporter said. “The interest is still there, but with the Chinese market it’s all a question of price, and the New Year next week has made them back off slightly,” said another seller.
The drop in Indian exports appears disproportionately steep, because exporters rushed to boost exports in December and to draw down stocks at RBCT as far as possible, exporters said.
”The result of pushing hard at year-end 2009 was less coal for spot January sales, and the markets which traditionally buy more spot coal “’ such as China and India “’ were short on South African supply in January,” according to one exporter.
South Africa exported a total of 5.5 million tonnes in December, which fell slightly to 4.9 million in January. December exports were maximised in order to use up their export allocation at RBCT.
South Africa exported a total of around 60 million tonnes in total in 2009.