September 7, 2017 / 4:41 AM / 9 months ago

China's Guangzhou port says coal imports operating normally after storage halt

BEIJING (Reuters) - Guangzhou port, the largest coal transport hub in southern China, said on Thursday that coal imports were operating normally after typhoon weather had caused a backlog that left storage facilities temporarily unable to accept new cargoes.

Trucks carrying shipping containers are seen at Nansha terminal of Guangzhou port in Guangdong province, China June 14, 2017. Picture taken June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

“Coal imports operations are operating normally,” Guangzhou Port Co (601228.SS) said in a filing to the Shanghai Exchange on Thursday.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Guangzhou, with 14 coal berths and capacity to handle 60 million tonnes of shipments per year, had halted operations, including foreign coal imports.

The move surprised traders, who said they hadn’t received official information on why operations had been halted, and feared a ban on imports was being implemented in the wake of similar curbs at other China ports.

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The port, however, said on Thursday that it had not received notice of any official import restrictions.

“Guangzhou port has not received any notices from customs regarding any curb on coal imports,” a port official told Reuters earlier on Thursday. “Neither did the port send out any notices to its clients ... As of this week, we still have foreign coal cargo ships coming into the port.”

Thomson Reuters shipping data showed that at least one thermal coal cargo ship left the port on Thursday morning empty, after arriving there fully laden in the early morning hours of Sept. 4.

The latest port filing showed August’s cargo throughput of all products, including coal, was at 35.5 million tonnes, up 3.8 percent from a year ago, but down from 38.45 million tonnes in July.

Prior to the port filing, the reports of disruptions had rekindled worries about tightness in the market amid declining domestic production and more stringent port checks on coal cargoes.

Mining caps and closures last year resulted in huge rises in coal prices which took many in the market by surprise.

China’s coal production in July fell to its lowest level since October 2016 due to a flurry of environmental checks at coal mines. Coal imports also touched a five-month low in July.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Beijing Monotoring Desk; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Richard Pullin

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