Australia-China row prompts shift in coal trading, as hope emerges for stranded seafarers

China’s unofficial ban on Australian coal imports is resulting in shifting trade flows across the region’s energy sector, mining companies believe, as hope emerges for ship crews stranded at sea for months on end. Introduced as part of a trade dispute between the two nations, China’s import restrictions made headlines after dozens of ships carrying coal from Australia were left stuck at sea for weeks or months, unable to offload cargo or change crew. The ban has never been officially confirmed by Chinese authorities. Early signs are now emerging that the worst of the crisis could be over. Seafarers aboard several vessels – including Anastasia, whose crew recently reported an urgent need for medical attention – have been allowed to return home, as industry groups call for further action from shipping companies. Australian coal exporters have this week told investors the future of this trade corridor remains highly uncertain, but that they are starting to find new export markets elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region. Mining giant BHP acknowledges in its half-year financial results up to December 2020 that “uncertainty about China’s import policy towards Australian coals spiked” during that period, and that the industry “faces a difficult and uncertain… continue reading

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