MARKETS

Thermal coal prices on fire

BUYERS of thermal coal are currently prepared to settle contracts at US$57-$60 per tonne, but some coal vendors are resisting locking in with their belief that prices of US$70/t are on the way.

Sarah Belfield
Thermal coal prices on fire

Macquarie Bank also thinks prices may continue to rise.

The investment bank said even though current prices are very profitable for the industry and the logical expectation would be a large rise in exports over six to nine months, the state of delivery infrastructure, particularly rail and port, will bottleneck any increased supply.

At around US$60/t, current export prices from Australia and South Africa are among the highest encountered in the coal market in nominal terms.

Pacific prices are slightly now above Atlantic prices, thanks to Asian demand and fears of a collapse in Chinese exports over recent months. Late last year, rising Asian exports kept Pacific prices below Atlantic prices.

According to Macquarie, the drivers of the price rise are strong global economic growth (pushing electric power demand higher), oil and gas shortages, China pulling back from the export market, and years of under-investment in infrastructure for deliveries to the seaborne market.

In April this year, AME Mineral Economics pointed out that between the early 1980s and 2003, the long-term trend for thermal coal prices was a decline (in real terms) at an average annual rate of 5%.

MiningNews.net

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