Beijing ban 'will not hurt' Thai miners
Thai coal miners and traders may be only slightly affected by China's most recent measures to battle air pollution by banning low-grade imported coal from next year.
The ban by Beijing covers certain types of highly polluting coal, making good on a vow the cabinet issued late last year as part of an accelerated campaign to clean up the country's notoriously polluted air.
The directive is aimed at low-grade coal mainly from Indonesia and Australia.
Benjaphol Suthvanich, an analyst at KK Trade Securities, said the new policy will affect miners and traders in the short term as it will cause poor sentiment.
Some coal importers in China may be reluctant to place orders in the short run to ensure their compliance with the new rule.
He said this would add more pressure on companies during a period of oversupply of coal across the world, leading to already low prices falling further.
However, in the future if China's economy improves to a certain level, domestic demand for coal will increase.
"That will support a rise in the global coal price," said Mr Benjaphol.
He also said Banpu, Asean's leading coal miner, will experience minimal impact from the policy because its output is mainly used in power plants which require high-grade coal, while China's policy is aimed at low-quality coal used in the manufacturing sector.
The companies which will be most affected are small traders who import low-grade coal to factories in China.
"SET-listed coal traders mostly sell high-grade coal, so they should not be affected," said Mr Benjaphol.
Effective from Jan 1, 2015 the government will no longer allow the sale or import of coal with ash content of 40% or more, and sulphur content of 3% or more, according to China's National Development and Reform Commission.
This means that low-grade lignite will be a key target as it has both high ash and sulphur levels.
Also, the government will impose stricter standards in areas with a high population density.
China is the world's largest consumer of coal with a total consumption of around 3.5 billion tonnes a year.