Cheapest & Most Expensive Imported Coal Prices by Country

The most lucrative global markets for selling coal are mainland China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. Those 5 leading coal importers bought a subtotal 65.7% or almost two-thirds of the US$95.4 billion for globally imported coal in 2020.

The latest overall value of annual coal imports expanded by 12.3% from $84.9 billion in 2016 but dropped by -28.6% compared to $133.5 billion during 2019.

Coal is principally used as an energy source mainly electric power as well as serving as fuel for industrial, commercial, residential and transportation processes. For instance, coal plays a key role in producing cement and steel.

The World Coal Association advises that coal serves as an essential ingredient in creating such speciality products as the activated carbon in water or air purifiers and kidney dialysis machines. Coal is also used in silicones and silanes for lubricants, cosmetics, shampoos and toothpastes.

Thousands of other goods depend on chemical components sourced from coal by-products. These include soap, aspirins, dyes, plastics and rayon or nylon fibers.

Highest Average Prices Paid for Imported Coal

International buyers in countries like Brunei Darussalam, Nigeria, Belize, Bermuda and Uruguay paid the greatest average unit prices per ton of coal in 2020.

Importers in the 16 leading countries showcased in the automated database below spent thousands of times more than 2020’s world average price of $79 per ton of imported coal.

 Buyer CountryAvg Price/TonVs World Avg
1.Brunei Darussalam$51,864+65,551%
2.Nigeria$17,593+22,170%
3.Belize$14,000+17,622%
4.Bermuda$4,667+5,808%
5.Uruguay$2,000+2.432%
6.Maldives$2,000+2.432%
7.Nauru$2,000+2.432%
8.Cameroon$2,000+2.432%
9.Iran$1,846+2,237%
10.Grenada$1,500+1,799%
11.Barbados$1,302+1,548%
12.Costa Rica$1,125+1,324%
13.Sierra Leone$1,000+1,166%
14.Cook Islands$1,000+1,166%
15.Seychelles$991+1,154%
16.Comoros$939+1,089%
17.Aruba$840+963.3%
18.Palestine$800+912.7%
19.Bahamas$737+832.9%
20.Malta$660+735.4%
21.Tanzania$649+721.5%
22.St Kitts/Nevis$619+683.5%
23.Nicaragua$561+610.1%
24.Paraguay$550+596.2%
25.Saint Helena$500+532.9%
26.Spain$495+526.6%
27.Botswana$468+492.4%
28.Turkmenistan$381+382.3%
29.El Salvador$362+358.2%
30.Ecuador$354+348.1%
31.Saudi Arabia$349+341.8%
32.Qatar$315+298.7%
33.Mauritania$278+251.9%
34.Montenegro$245+210.1%
35.Cuba$244+208.9%
36.Sudan$220+178.5%
37.Tunisia$219+177.2%
38.Libya$219+177.2%
39.Iraq$210+165.8%
40.Mongolia$208+163.3%
41.Venezuela$199+151.9%
42.Switzerland$193+144.3%
43.Zimbabwe$189+139.2%
44.Norway$182+130.4%
45.Slovenia$169+113.9%
46.Iceland$163+106.3%
47.Ireland$160+102.5%
48.New Zealand$149+88.6%
49.Bosnia/Herzegovina$143+81%
50.Azerbaijan$137+73.4%
51.Democr. Rep. Congo$134+69.6%
52.Austria$133+68.4%
53.Algeria$132+67.1%
54.Sweden$131+65.8%
55.Bhutan$130+64.6%
56.Slovakia$129+63.3%
57.France$117+48.1%
58.Australia$116+46.8%
59.Trinidad/Tobago$116+46.8%
60.Syrian Arab Republic$115+45.6%
61.Indonesia$113+43%
62.United Kingdom$112+41.8%
63.Argentina$111+40.5%
64.Armenia$111+40.5%
65.South Africa$108+36.7%
66.Ethiopia$108+36.7%
67.Serbia$108+36.7%
68.Malawi$108+36.7%
69.Madagascar$107+35.4%
70.Bulgaria$105+32.9%
71.Moldova$104+31.6%
72.Kazakhstan$102+29.1%
73.Gabon$102+29.1%
74.Estonia$101+27.8%
75.Ukraine$100+26.6%
76.Bahrain$100+26.6%
77.Bolivia$100+26.6%
78.Lesotho$99+25.3%
79.Luxembourg$94+19%
80.Burundi$94+19%
81.Japan$92+16.5%
82.Germany$92+16.5%
83.Canada$92+16.5%
84.Egypt$91+15.2%
85.Honduras$91+15.2%
86.Brazil$90+13.9%
87.North Macedonia$90+13.9%
88.Namibia$89+12.7%
89.Peru$87+10.1%
90.United States$86+8.9%
91.Congo$86+8.9%
92.Mozambique$86+8.9%
93.Italy$85+7.6%
94.Laos$85+7.6%
95.Romania$84+6.3%
96.British Virgin Islands$84+6.3%
97.Sri Lanka$83+5.1%
98.New Caledonia$82+3.8%
99.Poland$81+2.5%
100.Israel$81+2.5%
101.China$80+1.3%
102.Myanmar$80+1.3%
103.Oman$80+1.3%

Among the top spenders in terms of average unit prices, Brunei Darussalam imported 1,270 tons of coal while second-place Nigeria bought 509 tons of the carbon-rich fuel.

Most of the other countries that paid the highest average prices imported relatively smaller amounts of 13 tons or less.

Lowest Average Prices Paid for Imported Coal

The 55 import countries in the searchable database below paid average unit prices under the global average price of $79 per ton of imported coal in 2020.

 Buyer CountryAvg Price/TonVs World Avg
1.Russia$14-82.3%
2.Niger$19-75.9%
3.Kyrgyzstan$24-69.6%
4.Uzbekistan$32-59.5%
5.North Korea$33-58.2%
6.Papua New Guinea$38-51.9%
7.Ghana$38-51.9%
8.Afghanistan$39-50.6%
9.Belarus$42-46.8%
10.Tajikistan$42-46.8%
11.Colombia$45-43%
12.Bangladesh$47-40.5%
13.Togo$47-40.5%
14.United Arab Emirates$49-38%
15.Panama$49-38%
16.Singapore$49-38%
17.Mauritius$51-35.4%
18.Hong Kong$54-31.6%
19.Kuwait$54-31.6%
20.Philippines$55-30.4%
21.Thailand$56-29.1%
22.Yemen$56-29.1%
23.Chile$58-26.6%
24.Djibouti$58-26.6%
25.Zambia$58-26.6%
26.Jamaica$58-26.6%
27.Cyprus$58-26.6%
28.Burkina Faso$58-26.6%
29.Dominican Republic$60-24.1%
30.Cambodia$62-21.5%
31.Croatia$62-21.5%
32.Malaysia$64-19%
33.Morocco$64-19%
34.Western Sahara$64-19%
35.Angola$65-17.7%
36.Vietnam$66-16.5%
37.Uganda$67-15.2%
38.Benin$67-15.2%
39.Rwanda$67-15.2%
40.Turkey$68-13.9%
41.Senegal$69-12.7%
42.Eswatini$69-12.7%
43.Kenya$70-11.4%
44.Nepal$70-11.4%
45.Lithuania$70-11.4%
46.Lebanon$70-11.4%
47.Pakistan$72-8.9%
48.Netherlands$72-8.9%
49.India$73-7.6%
50.Portugal$73-7.6%
51.Jordan$76-3.8%
52.Latvia$76-3.8%
53.South Korea$77-2.5%
54.Georgia$77-2.5%
55.Taiwan$78-1.3%

The top 10 countries spending the smallest average unit prices for coal may well be benefiting from economies of scale by purchasing relatively larger volumes. Consider that Russia imported 319,110 tons of coal and Belarus consumed 81,899 tons of imported coal during 2020.

In contrast, Niger (232 tons) and Afghanistan (72 tons) imported relatively smaller quantities.

Biggest Markets for Imported Coal by Dollar Value

The 25 countries listed below accounted for 93.1% of the total US$95.4 billion spent on globally imported coal during 2020.

  1. China: US$16,385,099,000 (down -13.4% from 2019)
  2. Japan: $15,948,045,000 (down -31.4%)
  3. India: $15,871,091,000 (down -29.8%)
  4. South Korea: $9,489,648,000 (down -32.7%)
  5. Taiwan: $4,946,175,000 (down -29.1%)
  6. Vietnam: $3,593,824,000 (up 2.2%)
  7. Turkey: $2,721,307,000 (down -22.7%)
  8. Germany: $2,715,612,000 (down -40.9%)
  9. Malaysia: $2,301,963,000 (down -21%)
  10. Ukraine: $1,688,737,000 (down -40.1%)
  11. Brazil: $1,613,962,000 (down -44%)
  12. Philippines: $1,478,354,000 (down -20.6%)
  13. Thailand: $1,326,885,000 (down -7.8%)
  14. Pakistan: $1,233,246,000 (down -10.8%)
  15. Poland: $1,042,330,000 (down -40%)
  16. Indonesia: $902,666,000 (down -14.2%)
  17. France: $866,640,000 (down -47.3%)
  18. Netherlands: $714,786,000 (down -44.3%)
  19. Chile: $680,121,000 (down -21%)
  20. Italy: $662,318,000 (down -44.7%)
  21. Morocco: $638,995,000 (down -20.9%)
  22. Canada: $568,982,000 (down -23.8%)
  23. Belgium: $498,361,000 (down -29.5%)
  24. Israel: $452,828,000 (down -26.7%)
  25. United Kingdom: $414,424,000 (down -44.7%)

Among the top importers, only Vietnam increased its purchases of coal from 2019 to 2020 via an anemic 2.2% gain.

Registering the severest annual declines were France (down -47.3%), Italy (down -44.7%), United Kingdom (also down -44.7%), Netherlands (down -44.3%) and Brazil (down -44%).

Strongest Markets for Imported Coal by Weight

Generally, the quantity of measurement for the international trade of coal is tons.

In 2020, worldwide imports of coal totaled 1.215 million tons. That metric represents a flatlining 0.6% increase from 1.208 million tons 5 years earlier in 2016.

The following 25 countries imported the greatest volumes of coal in 2020 ranked by tonnage.

  1. India: 218,095,731,000 tons (down -12.5% from 2019)
  2. China: 204,796,553,000 tons (up 3.8%)
  3. Japan: 173,752,552,000 tons (down -6.7%)
  4. South Korea: 123,578,532,000 tons (down -12.6%)
  5. Taiwan: 63,031,543,000 tons (down -6%)
  6. Vietnam: 54,534,188,000 tons (up 26.4%)
  7. Turkey: 40,245,939,000 tons (up 6.6%)
  8. Malaysia: 36,091,740,000 tons (up 4.9%)
  9. Germany: 29,651,981,000 tons (down -28.3%)
  10. Philippines: 26,916,657,000 tons (up 1.2%)
  11. Thailand: 23,681,297,000 tons (up 11.3%)
  12. Russia: 22,418,910,000 tons (up 7%)
  13. Brazil: 17,859,134,000 tons (down -15.4%)
  14. Pakistan: 17,146,081,000 tons (up 7.4%)
  15. Ukraine: 16,951,030,000 tons (down -19.6%)
  16. Poland: 12,870,983,000 tons (down -23%)
  17. Chile: 11,710,817,000 tons (up 11.2%)
  18. Morocco: 9,964,901,000 tons (down -1.5%)
  19. Netherlands: 9,950,511,000 tons (down -24.1%)
  20. Bangladesh: 8,335,115,000 tons (up 15.6%)
  21. Indonesia: 7,955,444,000 tons (up 17.5%)
  22. Italy: 7,806,636,000 tons (down -27.9%)
  23. France: 7,378,375,000 tons (down -29.1%)
  24. Canada: 6,184,361,000 tons (down -24%)
  25. Israel: 5,564,489,000 tons (2019 data unavailable)

By volume, the above 25 international buyers imported 94.7% of the 1.215 million tons of coal delivered around the world in 2020.

From 2019 to 2020, the fastest-growing importers of coal as measured by tonnage were Vietnam (up 26.4%), Indonesia (up 17.5%), Bangladesh (up 15.6%), Thailand (up 11.3%) and Chile (up 11.2%).

Thirteen among the top 25 importers decreased their coal imports year over year in terms of tonnage.

The severest declines as measured by weight belonged to France (down -29.1%), Germany (down -28.3%), Italy (down -27.9%), Netherlands (down -24.1%), Canada (down -24%) and Poland (down -23%).

See also

More great research: Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Diamonds, Most Valuable Markets for Selling Imported Sugar, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Coffee, Top Global Markets for Buying Imported Potato Chips, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Wine

References

Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.

International Trade Centre, Trade Map.

Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

Richest Country Reports, Top 50 Richest Countries by GDP per Capita.

US Energy Information Administration, Coal explained: Use of Coal.

Wikipedia, Coal.

World Coal Association, Other Uses of Coal.

World’s Top Exports, Coal Exports by Country.

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