BEIJING (Reuters) - China increased its coal imports in July by 14 percent to their highest in 4-1/2 years, official data showed on Wednesday as rising temperatures boosted demand for coal-fired power to run air conditioners in the world's top buyer of the fuel.
Arrivals came in at 29.01 million tonnes last month, the General Administration of Customs said. That is the highest since January 2014.
Imports rose 23.9 percent from the 25.47 million tonnes in June and climbed 49.1 percent from the 19.46 million tonnes in July 2017.
Electric power loads on the transmission grid in parts of China soared late last month because of high temperatures, with southern areas of the Hebei province that surrounds Beijing reporting record demand and the State Grid Corporation of China warning of power shortages.
Increased buying of foreign shipments has also been spurred by curbs on domestic output as Beijing increases checks on heavy industry to clear air pollution.
"The authorities have vowed to ensure coal supplies and keep prices running smoothly during the peak season, therefore checks on imports could not be tightened in the short term," said Cheng Gong, coal analyst at Zheshang Securities.
The figures include lignite, a type of coal with lower heating value that is largely supplied by Indonesia.
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(Reporting by Josephine Mason and Muyu Xu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)
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