London - South Africa's coal exports for calendar year 2011 rose by 1.9% or 1.2 million tonnes to 64.6 million tonnes from the previous year, but the most notable change was the fourth-quarter surge in the amounts going to China, exporters said.
China took just over 13 million tonnes from South Africa last year, most of it in the fourth quarter as Chinese utilities filled stockpiles to capacity before the New Year holidays.
Although India remains the biggest single market for South African coal, accounting for 16.1 million tonnes in 2011, China has risen rapidly to the No. 2 spot.
In 2010 and 2009, Chinese buying of South African cargoes was rare and often at heavily discounted prices, because Australian or Indonesian coal costs less to ship due to its proximity.