Rumours of a ban on Australian thermal coal to China have swept through the thermal coal market this week. In a meeting late last week China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) was said to have ordered an immediate halt to discharging of Australian thermal coal for a three month period - March to May. There has been no official confirmation of this. Separately there have been reports of various Chinese ports including Fangcheng implementing changes to clearance procedures for Australian thermal coal that could increase the clearance time for customs by up to 3 months. One thing appears certain - Chinese demand for Australian thermal coal is likely to be significantly impacted. Even if an outright ban is not implemented, a 3-month customs clearance time will significantly increase the cost and increase the risk associated with Australian thermal cargoes. What are the implications of a halt in Australian thermal coal exports to China?