Coal shipments through the railway network across China totaled 1.12 billion tonnes in the first six months this year, down 6.8% from the same period in 2019, data from the National Development and Reform Commission showed.
June's shipments totaled 200 million tonnes, down 0.7% year on year but up 5.26%, or 10 million tonnes month on month, the NDRC data showed.
Over the first six months, railway shipments of all commodities totaled 2.1 billion tonnes, a 1.9% rise year on year. June's volume posed a 7% rise to 379 million tonnes, the data showed.
Coal transport has resumed rapidly since late May, and has returned to the year-ago level by the end of July, said China Coal Transportation and Distribution Association.
Over July 1-26, the daily average coal shipments of Daqin railway, the most significant artery of coal delivery from northern production areas to transfer ports, reached 1.27 million tonnes, up 4.1% from the same period last year.
As a result of COVID-19 epidemic, coal railings from January to May this year has been hit to a quite low level in recent years.
Affected by this, the cumulative volume of the first half remained on the decline, highlighted by Daqin railway, whose coal shipments slumped 14.01% to 187.63 million tonnes over the period.
Looking ahead, although China has a large coal production capacity and continues to boost new construction this year, it's not necessary to derive an increase in coal shipments for the whole year, if coal demand remains tepid in the second half.
In fact, the growth of railway coal shipments has narrowed year by year. According to data from the National Development and Reform Commission, in 2017 and 2018, the railway coal transport volume was 2.155 billion tonnes and 2.38 billion tonnes, respectively, an increase of 13.3% and 10.3% year-on-year.
In 2019, it was 2.46 billion tonnes, only an increase of 3.2%. It was the first single-digit increase in the past three years.
Since the beginning of this year, judging from data the NDRC has released, the cumulative decline in the first six months has shown an expanding trend.
Meanwhile, the increase in coal shipments from ports in the Bohai Bay has also significantly narrowed. In 2017, the Bohai-rim ports completed a total coal throughput of 677 million tonnes, an increase of 13%, reaching a record high. In 2018, the ports shipped 727 million tonnes of coal, setting a new record high but the rate of increase is narrowing to 7%. In 2019, the shipments totaled 718 million tonnes, with the rate swing to a negative 1%.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Tammy Yang)
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