BHP chairman confirms China-bound coal shipments are being deferred

The chairman of mining giant BHP has confirmed that Chinese clients have asked for deferrals of their coal orders amid reports that China has stopped taking shipments of Australian coal.

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Ken MacKenzie confirmed with reporters after BHP’s annual general meeting yesterday that some coal exports had been stalled.

“We understand there may be some new developments relating to how China plans and moderates imports versus its own domestic coal production,” he said. “Our commercial team has recently received deferment requests from some of our Chinese customers.”

A host of media titles this week including Bloomberg, Platts and Argus reported Beijing has slapped a ban on Australian coal in the latest sign of ongoing political tension between the two Asia Pacific nations.

Bloomberg cited sources saying that Chinese power stations and steel mills have been verbally told to immediately stop purchasing Australian coal and ports have also been told not to offload Australian coal.

Splash reported recently that bulk carriers carrying Australian coal have been lining up at major coal ports in north China, waiting to unload cargo for around three months.

The situation seems to have not been solved as AIS information shows most of the vessels are still anchored near the same ports.

With relations souring all year, China has already placed restrictions on other Australian products such as barley.