By Alistair MacDonald

 

The Chairman of BHP Ltd said that some of its Chinese customers are asking to defer delivery of coal from the world's largest miner, amid reports the country is banning coal imports from Australia.

Ken Mackenzie said BHP was working with its clients to see if there were restrictions on Australian coal imports.

"It would be concerning if the rumors are true," he said at a press conference.

Australian leaders said they are seeking to clarify reports in two trade publications that China's customs authorities have told several Chinese state-owned steelmakers and power plants to stop importing Australian coal.

Tensions between the two countries have reached new heights in recent months after Australia began seeking support from European leaders for an investigation of missteps by China that contributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

China has already placed restrictions on imports of Australian beef, barley and wine, and warned its tourists and students to reconsider Australia as a destination because of what it said was a rise in racial discrimination against Chinese people.

 

Write to Alistair MacDonald at Alistair.MacDonald@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 14, 2020 06:03 ET (10:03 GMT)

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