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Japanese total coal imports surged in May. Coal fired power usage in the country has risen from around 58% over the past few years to a record 92%. Key coal producers such as Australia and Russia have benefited from the demand.
After the 2011 tsunami, the Japanese government decided to close all its 54 nuclear power stations and turn to thermal coal power generation.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Finance, total coal imports into Japan in May hit 15.71 million tones, up 20% year-on-year. Australian coal accounted for 65% of this number, with its exports in May to Japan up 31%. Russia’s numbers were up 46% year-on-year to 1.12 million tonnes.
Thermal coal imports alone in May of 9.08 million tones, up 21% year-on-year with Australia providing 73% of the total. Japanese thermal coal imports of 43.45 million tonnes are up 6.4%, year-to-date.
“Resilient bulk commodity exports and their prices such as coal and iron ore are one factor behind the resilience of the Aussie dollar in the face of weaker industrial metal prices,” noted Sanjay Mathur, research strategist at RBS, in Singapore.