Coal exports from Gladstone port in eastern Australia to China hit a seven-year low of 150,000 mt in February, down 73.8% from 573,000 mt in January, Gladstone Ports Corporation said Thursday in a monthly report.
It was the port's lowest export volume to China since 145,000 mt was sent in January 2009 -- during the global financial crisis -- and equivalent to just one Capesize cargo.
China's demand for Gladstone coal exports began surging from late 2009 as its domestic demand began to outstrip domestic production.
The country imported 11.1 million mt of coal via Gladstone port in 2015, up from 624,000 mt in 2008, according to Gladstone port data.
China's total coal exports in 2015 stood at 72.6 million mt.
The February total may have been impacted by lull in demand during the Lunar New Year holiday in China in February, although Gladstone did send 588,000 mt of coal to China in February 2015, which also included a Lunar New Year holiday.
China's import volume of coal from Gladstone port was lower than from Mexico at 282,000 mt and almost as low as from Vietnam at 111,000 mt, Gladstone port noted in its report.
Gladstone's coal shipments to other major customers in Asia in February were largely in line with its volumes for January, the port said.
Japan booked 1.56 million mt of coal exports from Gladstone port in February, dipping from 1.71 million mt in January; India booked 1.18 million mt, edging up from 1.17 million mt in January; South Korea 1.26 million mt, down from 1.55 million mt and Taiwan 210,000 mt, up from 172,000 mt.
Gladstone port shipped a total of 5 million mt of coal in February, down from 5.82 million mt in January, the port data showed.
The port in the state of Queensland ships both thermal coal and coking coal and its shippers include major coal miners Idemitsu, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Yancoal and Wesfarmers.