Coal containerization: Will it be an alternative mode of transport between north and south China in the future?

Dong Yang, Jinxian Weng, Jia Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Shaanxi, Shanxi province and Inner Mongolia in north China are the nation’s leading producers of coal. In the past decades, a huge amount of coal has been transported from these areas to the central and south China via ports in Hebei Province and Port of Tianjin. Traditionally, coal is transported in bulk shipment. However, in recent years, an interesting phenomenon is that the lump coal is sorted out in the north and then moved in containers to the south. This paper aims to ascertain whether the coal containerization will become an alternative transport mode for moving lump coal from the north to the south of China. Based on extensive field investigation and data analyses, it is found that although the container mode appears to be more expensive than the bulk shipping mode, the cost difference between the two modes is not as significant as our expectation if we also take into factors like fragmented demand, environment pressure, geographic distribution characteristics of customers and so on. Design/methodology/approach: Extensive field investigation, data analysis and economic decision model. Findings: It is found that although the container mode appears to be more expensive than the bulk shipping mode, the cost difference between the two modes is not as significant as the authors’ expectation if they also take into factors like fragmented demand, environment pressure, geographic distribution characteristics of customers and so on. Originality/value: Although the major focus has been placed on the food containerization, the coal containerization is still a new thing and has attracted only limited attention. This paper is making an initial attempt to profile the phenomenon of coal containerization in China. This attempt is believed to not only enrich the literature of coal containerization but also support the literature of bulk containerization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalMaritime Business Review
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Coal containerization
  • Coal logistics chain
  • Economic decision model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Transportation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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