Exporter SUEK plans to triple its sales to Beijing this year © Getty Images / VCG

Siberian Coal Energy Company SUEK, Russia’s largest exporter of the fossil fuel, is set to significantly increase sales to China in 2023, the company’s CEO told reporters on Saturday.

According to Maxim Basov, SUEK “intends to more than triple its supplies to the Chinese market” this year, bringing export volumes to more than 20 million tons.

“The Chinese market is very important for us. Last year our main international market was South Korea and before that the European Union, but this year I think that China will overtake Korea and become our main export market,” the CEO said.

He noted that in the long run, SUEK may increase coal sales to China to 50 million tons per year. These plans will come to fruition if the prices at which China buys Russian coal remain attractive to the Russian exporter and if the zero import duty remains in place, he added.

“China will continue to import about 300 million tons of coal per year. China’s largest supplier is Indonesia. Russia came in second last year in terms of supplies, and of all the Russian companies, we were the largest,” Basov said.

The CEO, who is currently in China on a business trip, added that over the past few days his company signed a number of long-term contracts with leading Chinese manufacturers of mining machinery.

“I think in the next few months our supply of mining equipment will grow many times over… In general, our cooperation with China is set to grow both in terms of our exports to the PRC and in terms of equipment imports from China,” he added.

Russia ramped up coal exports to China by 11.2% to 59.5 million tons in 2022. The move was part of Moscow’s efforts to reorient its trade following the EU’s ban on Russian coal, introduced amid Ukraine-related sanctions last year. China is increasing its coal consumption, and consequently its coal imports, as its industrial activity rebounds after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

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