ULAANBAATAR, April 15 (Reuters) - Mongolia’s coal exports rose 15 percent on the year to 7.8 million tonnes in the first quarter, according to official data published on Monday, with the country benefiting from customs delays impeding imports from Australia during the period.
Landlocked Mongolia is heavily dependent on demand for coal and copper from China, its southern neighbour and the buyer of more than 90 percent of its exports.
China has sharply reduced purchases of Australian coal after clearing times through China’s customs doubled to more than 40 days amid growing tensions between Beijing and Canberra over issues ranging from cyber security to Beijing’s influence in Pacific island nations.
Naranbaatar Lundeg, an economist and member of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, said the problems faced importing coal from Australia had “opened up opportunities” for Mongolian suppliers.
“This might continue until May, due to the parliamentary elections in Australia,” he said.
Mongolia’s export earnings from coal over the first three months of the year reached $644 million, up 25 percent compared to a year earlier, the country’s statistics office said.
The rise in coal exports helped drive up Mongolia’s total industrial output from coal mining by 64.9 percent over the period.
Mongolia’s industrial output rose 17.5 percent over the first quarter, while the total value of the country’s exports rose 19.5 percent, the statistics office said.
Reporting by Munkhchimeg Davaasharav in ULAANBAATAR Writing by David Stanway; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore