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Coal imports to China fall nearly half in 12 months

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Imports of coal to China fell by nearly half in the first three months of the year as the slowing economy and tougher rules on pollution took their toll.

Imports by the world’s biggest coal consumer reached 49.07m tonnes in the first quarter, a decline of 42% on the same period a year ago according to data from the Chinese customs office.

Trade figures for March showed that imports were down in total by 12.3%, while exports badly missed expectations, falling 15% from a year earlier.

Coal imports for March increased by 17m tonnes, a rise of 11.6% on the previous month, but analysts said underlying demand eased after taking into account the shorter month and week-long new year holiday in February.