Inventories pile up amid declining energy demand, growth slowdown.
Black mountains of coal stand sentinel in Qinhuangdao, 300 kilometers northeast of Beijing, in what was once called the largest coal port on Earth. They grow ever higher due to a lack of shipping orders amid a slowdown in growth since the beginning of the year.
nly five ships were present on Wednesday afternoon, in contrast with 70 to 80 ships daily during peak times.In the port's trading center, almost deserted, the display screen was flashing out the latest cut in prices. The Bohai Bay-Rim Steam Coal Price Index showed that average prices fell to 676 yuan ($107) per ton, down 20 percent year-on-year.
"It's been like this for about two months," said the security guard, facing a blank page in the visit registration book on his desk.The market has been "really weak" since the beginning of June, said Li Quan, a coal trader from Datong, a city in coal-rich Shanxi province in North China.
Coal stocks at the port swelled to 9.46 million tons on June 18, the highest level since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis, according to official statistics, close to the maximum of its designed stockpiling capacity of 10.18 million tons.
"The normal is around 6 million tons," said Xing Lei, professor at the Institute of China Coal Economy at the Central University of Finance and Economy. Energy demand has been slowing as the economic model switches focus from exports to consumption.
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