Column: Thermal coal prices in Asia fall as China and India buy less: Russell

LANCESTON, Australia, Jan. 30 (Reuters) – Asia’s seaborne thermal coal markets are shedding warmth, with costs and volumes falling as winter demand passes and Europe’s vitality disaster eases.

Costs of the primary traded grades of coal utilized in energy crops fell to their lowest in months final week, and to their lowest degree in a 12 months within the case of one of many main Australian grades.

Australian coal on the port of Newcastle with an vitality worth of 5,500 kcal per kilogram (kcal/kg), as assessed by commodity worth reporting company Argus, fell to $129.87 a tonne within the week ending January 27, the bottom for the reason that week ending January 3. January. 21, 2022.

This grade of coal is usually purchased by Indian utilities, and Australian grade was a favourite amongst Chinese language consumers earlier than Beijing’s casual ban on Australian shipments, imposed amid a diplomatic dispute in mid-2020.

Whereas the Chinese language ban has been lifted, consumers are unlikely to flock again to Australian thermal coal, given the supply of cheaper, comparable high quality coal from Russia.

The upper high quality 6,000 kcal/kg Newcastle grade additionally fell final week, with the index closing at $307.47 a ton, the bottom since April and 31% under the document excessive of $442.89 reached in early September.

The worth for Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kg bodily cargoes collected by GlobalCOAL was weaker, ending final week at $294 a ton, and falling under $300 for the primary time since April final 12 months.

This grade is mostly purchased by consumers in Japan and South Korea, often on a contract foundation, which signifies that the spot market represents solely a small a part of complete volumes.

Worth weak spot was not restricted to Australian thermal coal, with Indonesian grades additionally falling.

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, whereas Australia ranks second and Russia ranks third.

Low-grade Indonesian coal with an vitality worth of 4,200 kcal/kg ended final week at $80.39 a ton, the bottom since early September.

This grade is most well-liked by Chinese language utilities for its low sulfur and ash content material, and can be wanted by Indian energy crops as a result of it’s cheaper than alternate options from Australia and South Africa.

And Russian thermal coal from the port of Vostochny, which China buys largely after Japan restricted imports within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, can be weakening.

The worth fell to $157 a ton in mid-January, the bottom degree since December final 12 months.

Sliding sizes

Decrease costs for thermal coal happen as demand for seaborne cargo seems to be waning between Asia’s two largest importers.

China, the world’s largest coal importer, is anticipated to import 23.96 million tonnes of all grades in January, down from 28.33 million in December, in response to information compiled by commodity analysts Kpler.

If January’s remaining arrivals are according to Kpler’s estimates, will probably be the weakest month for Chinese language imports since August.

India, the second-place importer, is anticipated to drop 16.20 million tons in January, roughly according to December’s 16.22 million tons, but it surely ought to be famous that December was the weakest month for imports since February 2022.

Imports of Japan and South Korea, Asia’s third and fourth largest coal importers, gave the impression to be barely stronger in January than they had been in December.

Nevertheless, January is traditionally a powerful month for the 2 North Asian international locations, with imports declining in subsequent months because the winter peak demand interval passes.

Total, the image from each weak costs and volumes is that demand for coal in Asia stays robust, however the froth out there brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent menace to vitality provides in Europe seems to be evaporating.

Enhancing by Simon Cameron Moore

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