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Coal News Coal Markets, Indonesia

Indonesia’s thermal coal exports up 7% YoY in 2023

Steel Mint Insights

Indonesian thermal coal exports rose by 7% y-o-y to 360.58 million tonnes (mnt) in CY’23 as against 336.78 mnt in CY’22. However, exports drop by 3% m-o-m to 33.63 mnt in December 2023 as against 34.70 mnt in November 2023.

Record high coal production

Indonesia’s coal production achieved record high levels this year, surpassing the government’s target due to robust global demand and favorable weather conditions. As of 27 December 2023, coal production soared to an impressive 751.58 million tonnes (mnt), exceeding the initial target of 694.5 mnt. The surge in coal production has been notable, driven by increased energy demands on both global and domestic fronts. Coal sales have reached 705.49 mnt in CY’23.

Freight cost advantage

Indonesia enjoys a significant freight cost advantage over other suppliers to top coal consumers such as China and India, making it a preferred choice for cost-sensitive importers throughout Asia. The country benefits from lower freight costs, particularly in its shipments to major consumers like China and India. This cost-effectiveness strategically positions Indonesia as the favored supplier for importers across Asia who prioritize financial efficiency.

China, being the largest buyer of Indonesian coal, further underscores Indonesia’s prominence in the coal market. According to data from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, the current cost to ship a ton of coal from Indonesia to China is approximately $8-$10, a notable contrast to the $14-$15 per ton for the Australia-to-China voyage.

Moreover, the journey time from Indonesia to major coal import hubs in China and India is roughly half that from Australia. This time advantage provides Indonesian exporters with a competitive edge in securing spot deals for urgent cargoes.

Exports (Country- wise)

Indonesia, experienced a substantial 21% increase in exports to China in CY’23. China received 103.44 mnt thermal coal in CY’23 as against 85.59 mnt in CY’22,constituting 46.6% of China’s total coal imports.

Shipments to India rose by 2% y-o-y to 100.83 mnt in CY’23 as against 98.88 mnt in CY’22. The combination of competitive prices and shorter export times has attracted Indian coal buyers to Indonesia.

Shipments to South Korea fell by 6% to 22.03 mnt in CY’23 as against 23.40 mnt in CY’22. The significant rise in Indonesia’s coal exports to Korea can be attributed to its rapidly expanding power needs. Imports by Vietnam surged by 47% y-o-y to 14.47 mnt in CY’23. Exports to Philippines surged by 14% at 29.53 mnt in CY’23 as against 25.94 mnt in CY’22.

Port-wise exports

Exports from Samarinda rose 6% y-o-y to 84.96 mnt in CY’23 as against 80.03 mnt in CY22. Shipments from Taboneo stood at 52.34 mnt in CY’23 as against 55.93 mnt in CY’22. Supplies from Tanjung bara and Balikpapan rise by 24% and 25%, respectively, in CY’23.

Advancements in Indonesian coal market:

PTBA plans to construct coal-loading stations

PT Bukit Asam (PTBA), an Indonesian coal producer, is set to build two train-loading stations at its Tanjung Enim mine in South Sumatra. With a 3,000 t/hr. capacity each, these stations will be linked to conveyor-system lines spanning 13 km and 17 km. The Tanjung Enim-Kramasan railway, designed for a 20 million t/yr capacity, is expandable to 40 million t/yr if needed.

SDE launches first underground coal mine in South Kalimantan

Indonesian coal producer, Sumber Daya Energi (SDE) has initiated commercial operations at the country’s inaugural underground mine in Kotabaru, South Kalimantan on 21 December’23. Covering an expansive 184.92 kms, the mine holds an estimated 293 mnt of coal reserves and 589 mnt of resources, targeting an annual production of 10 mnt post-stabilisation. The mine, with a business permit (IUP) expiring in May 2034, began construction in CY’21.

Indonesia to initiate coal levies from Jan’24 to combat shortage

Indonesia plans to begin levies on coal miners in Jan’24 to compensate for coal sold at lower prices to state utilities. This comes with an aim to deal with coal supply shortage, to which the trial run is expected in Dec’23 with full-fledged implementation being followed from Jan’24.


Indonesian miners are prioritizing the fulfillment of local demand as buying interest has strengthened from power plants, and Indonesia has decided to levy penalties on thermal coal miners failing to meet their annual domestic market obligation. On the supply side in Indonesia, the situation is tight because not all miners have received approval for their production quotas (RKAB) for 2024. These factors might affect Indonesia’s exports in Q1CY’24.