Bloomberg reported that China is considering accepting some stranded Australian coal cargoes, an effort that would help ease a logjam of vessels that have stacked up off its coast for months and that the shipments that could be cleared are those that arrived before a ban on Australian coal went into effect. Sources said “Deliberations are at an initial stage and any decision would need the approval of more senior Chinese leaders. The broader prohibition on Australian coal remains in place, and ideally the cargoes would be resold to buyers in other countries.”
The opaque nature of the Australian ban, which has never been publicly acknowledged by China, makes pinpointing its start date difficult. The government was rumoured to have ordered its five biggest utilities to halt Australian purchases as early as May, while in October, power stations and steel mills were told to stop using Australian coal. In November, Beijing ordered traders to halt purchases of a raft of the country’s commodities, including coal.
About 70 ships are waiting to discharge coal. Most of the stranded coal is coking coal while a smaller portion is of thermal coal. Some ship owners and charterers are pushing for the cargo owners to allow them to divert to foreign ports to relieve an estimated 1,400 mariners who remain trapped on the ships.