Japan could spark languishing thermal coal price

NEWCASTLE thermal coal prices fell to $US87.10 per tonne last week as lacklustre demand for prompt supplies continue, according to a report by ANZ.

Lou Caruana

It said Chinese buying interest for Australian coal remained subdued but reports showed Japan increased coal imports in April, up 23% year on year to 15.5 million tonnes.

“Reports suggest Tohoku Electric Power has resumed full operations at its 2000-megawatt coal-fired plant following the March 2011 disaster and Tepco started test operations at its 600MW new coal-fired unit, contributing to rising imports,” the report stated.

“The Asian market remains directionless, with the looming impact of China’s ban on lower calorific coal imports reducing bids.

“Although demand from India was sustained as coal stocks at major power plants are reportedly at critically low levels.”

Coking coal markets have also suffered, down 2% to $142/t, appearing to play catch-up with recent sharp declines in base metals, according to ANZ.

Coking coal followed China’s manufacturing index down.

It has been trending downwards for several months.