China’s Zhejiang province has reportedly received the first thermal coal shipment from Kazakhstan amid the ongoing power crisis in the country.

The coal was imported by Zhejiang Energy Group , which is backed by the provincial government.

According to the state-run Zhejiang Daily newspaper, a total of 136,000t of 6,000cal premium quality coal was delivered to Liuheng terminal.

Although the coal was said to have been more expensive than its rival suppliers, it was understood to be more economically feasible considering record Chinese coal prices, as well as the peak power loads and diminishing coal inventory in the province.

The shipment comes at a time when the nation has been facing an acute coal shortage and increases in coal prices.

The increases, combined with strong power demand from manufacturers, industry and households, have led China to ration power in certain provinces.

Last month, China extended power restrictions to at least 20 provinces and regions as it struggled to cope with power shortages in its north-eastern region.

According to customs data, the country imported very little thermal coal from Kazakhstan during the first eight months of this year.

In June and July, Zhejiang Energy Group imported 130,000t of thermal coal from the US.

In another development, China is said to have started accepting small Australian coal shipments, despite an unofficial ban.

The Financial Times reported that the shipments from Australia emphasise the power scarcity currently being faced by the world’s second-largest economy.

Last week, the Chinese Communist Party, which governs the country, ordered power companies to secure winter power ‘at any cost’ after power rationing caused blackouts in several regions.

Vice-Premier Han Zheng told power companies at an emergency meeting that his party ‘would not tolerate’ blackouts.