Coal demand updates

AUSTRALIAN spot coal prices remain depressed for the year to date, while Macquarie Private Wealth analysts believe China’s coal production growth in 2015 will only occur in western China.
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Blair Price

In its recent analysis of the Chinese government’s third-ever plenum event, MPW did not forecast any impacts on the country’s coal demand from proposed environmental reforms.

“We do not think the environmental push will see reduced coal consumption,” MPW said.

“Growth in coal burn is crucial for economic growth and alternatives are not of appropriate scale – indeed increased gas output is more likely to target refined crude products in industrial demand first.

“However, there is likely to be a further move to increase coal production and consumption in western China – with limited coal consumption growth on the eastern seaboard.

“This could be a problem for an oversupplied global thermal coal market, with the Chinese contestable portion growing only slowly.”

A surge in Chinese coal imports helped lift Australia out of the coal downturn experienced in the March quarter of 2009.

Meanwhile, spot prices collated by RBC Capital Markets indicate that free-on-board, Australian premium coking coal prices were $US141 a tonne on Tuesday – down 1.7% for the week and 11.9% for the year to date.

Australian semi-soft coking coal was priced at $97/t, up 1% for the week and down 18.5% YTD while Newcastle-exported thermal coal was priced at $81.80/t, a mere 0.1% gain for the week and 13% down YTD.