China coal imports are expected to maintain growth in 2013, sustaining supply from major exporters like Indonesia and Australia. According to the China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association, coal imports in the first 11 months this year reached 245 million metric tons (mt), up 34.9% from a year earlier. Full year imports are forecast to hit 270 million mt.

According to Xinhua Online, experts attending the 2013 China Coal Market Summit said the amount of imported coal has grown steadily over the past three years due to the decline of prices in the international market and low shipping costs. Globally, the demand for coal continued to drop this year, influenced by the sluggish economy in the developed world and the development of shale gas in the United States. Meanwhile, the supply from major coal exporters like Indonesia and Australia has been growing, creating strains of oversupply. Most of China’s imported coal comes from Indonesia.

According to the China Coal Industry Association, the country’s coal production is expected to hit 3.7 billion mt this year. However, consumption grew at a slower pace, chipping away at corporate profits. Data shows combined profits at 90 major Chinese coal producers plunged 22.2% from a year earlier between January and October this year.