China is expected to tighten coal import rules in the second half of 2020 to shore up its struggling domestic industry, as reported by Reuters. Imports could drop as much as a quarter in the second half from the corresponding 2019 period, analysts estimated, which is likely to boost pressure on major coal exporters, such as Australia, Indonesia and Russia, which are already battling weak demand because of the virus.

Wood Mackenzie Senior Consultant Yu Zhai said, “China’s total coal consumption, including thermal and metallurgical coal, may reach 1.9 billion metric tons (mt) from July through December. Imports would account for about 80 million mt of that, or a quarter less than the 107 million in the corresponding 2019 period.”

James Stevenson, a senior director at IHS Markit, estimated China’s full-year coal imports could fall to 275 million mt, with thermal coal plunging about 20% on the year, but seaborne metallurgical coal arrivals seeing a slight pickup.