BMA, Anglo drive met coal dominance

MACQUARIE Wealth Management has concluded that BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance and Anglo American mines in Queensland helped underpin a market share-boosting 9% increase in Australian met coal exports in 2014.
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Moranbah North image courtesy of Anglo American.

Blair Price

This increase of 16Mt of Australian exports contrasted with just an 8Mt increase in global met coal exports in 2014 – with this 3% global growth rate considered the lowest since the Queensland floods knocked out production in 2011.

“Last year’s growth was driven entirely by Australia, which pushed an extra 16Mt of coal into the market,” Macquarie said.

“The volume came both from mine ramp ups – notably BMA’s Daunia and Caval Ridge – and productivity improvements, evidenced since 2013, which continued to be made at a large number of hard coking coal mines.

“On a like-for-like basis, increased output was seen at all BMA/BHP operations and all of Anglo American’s met coal mines, with the exception of Moranbah North (which was affected by operational issues).”

With full year data received, the broker mapped out met coal trade flows for 2014.

It found that US met coal exports sank from 57Mt in 2013 to 53Mt in 2014 (down 7%); Russian met coal exports slipped 1Mt to 13Mt in 2014 (down 7%); Canadian met coal exports gained 4Mt to 30Mt last year; Indonesian met coal exports fell 3Mt to 1Mt last year (down 67%); and Colombian exports of the commodity doubled to 6Mt in 2014. Mozambique exported 2Mt across both years.

“Continued productivity gains and mine ramp-ups meant that Australian exports grew strongly once again, but shipments from all other major supply countries declined, as sustained weak prices finally pushed miners to make much needed supply cuts,” Macquarie said.

“In many ways, this is exactly the situation Australian miners were hoping for – market rebalancing, with Australian met coal winning the key market-share battle in Asia.”

The jurisdictions which increased their met coal imports last year included India (up 22.5% to 49Mt), Europe (up 11% to 59Mt) and Brazil (up 27% to 19Mt).

Macquarie said Australian met coal exports to main Asian buyers increased by 11Mt last year, with India accounting for 6.8Mt of this and Korea taking 3.3Mt. The other Australian met coal import increases were notched up in China (0.8Mt), Japan (0.2Mt) and Taiwan (0.2Mt).