Since August 10, when the European Union banned imports of Russian coal, Kazakhstan has been increasing its coal export to Europe. During this period Kazakhstan not only regained the positions it once had, but also reached a considerable increase in coal exports.
Kazakhstani coal exporters reported difficulties in transporting coal toward Europe this summer due to the Russian railways’ refusal to let it through. However, when the E.U. closed its doors for Russian coal, Kazakhstan managed to get back on the horse and fill the niche.
In October, Lithuania imported 25.4 tons of Kazakhstani coal, almost half of the entire amount it bought from Kazakhstan so far this year (57,000 tons). Last year, Kazakhstan exported to Lithuania 70,000 tons of coal in total.
Neighboring Latvia also reported an increase in coal imports: in 2022 the country imported 213,400 tons of Kazakhstani coal including 114,800 tons in October, despite the fact that stepping up in coal shipments was accompanied by an increase in custom cost per ton of coal: $117.90 over the first ten months of the year, compared to $15.70 last year. Latvia had not imported coal from Kazakhstan last year at all.
Another Baltic state Estonia imported 72,400 tons of coal from Kazakhstan this year, including 70,500 tons in October. Just like Latvia, this country didn’t import coal from Kazakhstan last year. Poland is also a large buyer of Kazakhstani coal. Over the first ten months this year, this country bought 1.1 million tons of coal, including 140,900 tons in October. Last year, the amount of coal imported by Poland from Kazakhstan from January to October was not as impressive: just 71,700 tons.
The largest importer of Kazakhstani coal in Europe is Switzerland. This country bought 6.2 million tons of coal from Kazakhstan, almost twice as much as last year (3.4 million tons). As a result, the total amount of coal Kazakhstan exported over January-October reached 10.2 million tons, a twofold growth compared to last year.
These results contradict some previous forecasts. For instance, in June, Turar Zholmagambetov, deputy head of the industrial committee under the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development, shared his concern that Kazakhstan’s exporters can lose about $300 million in profit due to anti-Russian sanctions this year and $400 million next year. At the same time, CEO of KTZ-Freight Transportation Nurzhan Kelbuganov said that the Russian railways refused to let Kazakhstani coal go through its infrastructure.
The E.U. imposed sanctions against Russian coal on August 10 that caused a 77% plunge (to €374 million) in coal exports from Russia compared to July. In order to compensate for the absence of Russian coal, European importers switched to coal from South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Columbia. At the same time, Russia redirected its coal exports toward China and India.