Asturias is playing a relevant role in the tangled energy and geopolitical panorama that was unleashed a year and a half ago with the war in Ukraine. As punishment for the military invasion, Just a year ago the European Union decreed an embargo on imports of coal from Russia, which until then contributed considerable volumes to the merchandise traffic of the Gijón port of El Musel. Countries around the world – especially Australia, Indonesia and South Africa, the three largest producers of the mineral – have since increased their coal exports to Europe to cover the Russian hole and satisfy the general rebound in demand for coal as fuel, in the face of the exorbitant increase in gas prices. In this context, The ports of the Principality have become warehouses to which shipments from all over the planet arrive, which are then reloaded onto huge ships for export to multiple destinations.. Something that still has a certain bitter taste in a region that for decades was characterized by its mining power and that now barely has production..
In the first half of this year, according to the latest data from the Asturian Society of Economic and Industrial Studies (Sadei), sales of coal from Asturias have skyrocketed 497% compared to the same period of 2022, generating income of 431,5 millions of euros, in front of the 72,1 millions of then. Just like a year ago coal, coke and briquettes – cylinder or brick-shaped blocks of biofuels – were just the 2,3% of the region's total exports, now they provide the 13%. Thus, have become the third article with the most weight in the Asturian foreign sector, after zinc and iron and steel supplies (which, by the way, have respectively fallen back 19,8% and a 16,5% in interannual rate).
The balance of the first semester reflects the notable increase in coal imports from countries like South Africa (with a spectacular rebound of more than 2.000%, passing from 7 a 153 millions), Vietnam (with an increase of 991%), Japan (541%), Egypt (454%), South Korea (425%), India (217%) o Indonesia (181%). By economic amount, the main importer in Asturias (not only coal, but of all merchandise in general) It was Australia., with products valued at 374,5 millions, and 31% more than a year ago. Germany came next., also with a rise in 31%, until the 221,8 millions.
These shipments were later redirected from Asturias to other countries.. Some where there were special increases compared to last year were Indonesia (with a variation of more than 1.800%, from some testimonials 925.000 euros a 17,7 millions), Croatia (410%), Morocco (342%), Finland (145%) India (127%). In absolute terms, The main recipients of all the goods from Asturias were Germany, Italy and France.
Since Sadei's data refers to the economic value and not the volume of the goods, These strong increases are also due to the international revaluation of coal in the last year.
The figures also indicate that the export record that Asturias has been showing this year (3.321 million euros until June) has small print. Logically, Sales are counted in the Asturian balance as it is the geographical location from which they are made., but in the case of coal, which is a key factor of this boom, Asturias' role is storage, not of special added value.