Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn

WHITEHAVEN Coal CEO Paul Flynn expects to see a period of metallurgical coal price softness brought on by the COVID-19 crisis followed by a strengthening ushered in by government stimulus packages.
Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn Govt stimulus packages to buoy coal prices: Flynn

Whitehaven Coal CEO Paul Flynn.

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He told the Bank of America Securities Global Metals, Mining & Steel Conference that this was consistent with the fact that met coal pricing had been softer in relative terms than what thermal had experienced through the same period.

"I think that's going to take some time to play out," he said.

"I see more stimulus and government policy being influential in the demand for metallurgical coal. And so it makes sense to us that this has been softer. But it also makes sense to us that this would rebound strongly with government stimulus as countries look to reignite their economies in hopefully not before too long, a post-COVID-19 environment."

Flynn said the unknown factor was how long the COVID-19 crisis would last and how each government would manage the process of gearing up their economies.

"The challenge for us I think is that our customer jurisdictions will come out of this at different paces," he said.

"And although you can see clusters of our market in particular in terms of Whitehaven's market - Japan, Korea, Taiwan being a very large proportion of our production - I would generally say that they are in a similar boat, if I can call it that.

"And I would expect them to re-emerge from this period in relatively uniform fashion."

Flynn said India was a big met coal market for Whitehaven and it was dealing with shutdowns at its ports currently.

"But they are talking about reopening those as well," he said.

"So my sense of this … is that I think we've seen the most recent softness, to me, representing the low.

"And I think we'll see a gradual movement of this now through the balance of this calendar year, gravitating more back towards the US$60 per tonne [for thermal coal].

"Whether or not we end up getting to the US$60/t by the end of the calendar, look, I think that's, again, it's a difficult call to make given that there could be subsequent outbreaks of COVID-19, which may delay people's recovery programs."

Flynn said he thought the world would uniformly acknowledge that it needed to get back into gear economically before too long.

"And I think that bodes well for having seen the low point in this particular cycle price wise," he said.

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