A surprise announcement from Beijing last weekend that it had banned coal imports from North Korea is causing a fracas in China's coal market, as traders scramble for supplies of the commodity that is used in steel-making and heating.
In 2016, China imported 22.5 million tons of coal from the hermit kingdom, representing 12.3 percent of its total imports, said BMI Research. The commodity is also a key export for the isolated nation in the Korean Peninsula.
Prices of steel and coking coal are rallying this week as mills will need to meet the shortfall of 22 million tons should the ban be fully enforced.
On Tuesday morning, the most active steel rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange and coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange were both up about 3 percent, extending gains of 2 percent on Monday.
The ban will be a net positive for coal prices, said BMI's global commodities strategist, John Davies.