* Nov coal imports reach 26.97 million tonnes
* That is up by a quarter from October
* Utilities replenishing stocks as winter bites
* Local prices surged after govt-enforced mine closures
(Updating with detail, comment)
BEIJING, Dec 8 China, the world's largest coal
buyer, imported its largest volume of the commodity in 18 months
in November, customs data showed on Thursday, with utilities
replenishing stocks to cope with higher winter demand.
November imports of 26.97 million tonnes were up a quarter
from October and more than double the 12.45 million tonnes
imported in the same month last year, according to figures from
the General Administration of Customs of China.
Traders have scrambled to sell more coal in China, the
world's largest energy market, as domestic prices have staged a
historic rally after government-enforced mine closures squeezed
"I am not surprised to see the import rally in November. The
price for domestic coal has been at a historically high level,
whereas the price of foreign coal was relatively cheap," said
Wang Fei, coal analyst at Huaan Futures.
The buying spree may not last as prices have eased slightly
so far this month after the government forced mines and
utilities to sign long-term contracts at big discounts to the
cash market, traders said.
The figures include lignite, a type of coal with lower
heating value that is largely supplied by Indonesia.
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(Reporting by Aizhu Chen and Muyu Xu; Writing by Josephine