US, Russian coking coal prices holding up better than Australian cargoes

Prices for commonly available mainstream brands of Australian hard coking coal into China remained under pressure on Tuesday January 20.

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However, materials from other countries that contain lower ash and sulphur are holding up relatively well price-wise.

A number of top Australia brands were heard done in the region of $115 per tonne cfr China while a second-tier product is said to have changed hands at around $107 per tonne cfr.

But recent transactions involving Russian and US cargoes did not move in tandem with their Australian counterparts, according to market sources. They either traded higher than expected or kept to levels similar to those over the past month, unlike the weakening Australian brands.

Participants told Steel First that the supply of low-ash, low-sulphur materials has been tighter of late, even as multiple cargoes of premium Australian coal were continuously pushed into the market.

Several sellers were heard to have slashed offers in order to move cargoes or to generate better cash flows, sources said.

“We’re staying away from the market now as we wait for more clarity,” a source at a large trading firm told Steel First.

Steel First's cfr Jingtang premium hard coking coal index fell  $0.19 per tonne to $114.69 per tonne on Tuesday while the cfr Jingtang hard coking coal index shed $0.30 per tonne to $106.42 per tonne.

The fob Australia premium hard coking coal index lost $1.60 per tonne to $112.43 per tonne while the fob Australia hard coking coal index dipped $0.57 per tonne to $101.07 per tonne.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the most-traded May coking coal futures contract closed at 726 yuan ($118) per tonne on Tuesday, up slightly from Monday’s close of 724 yuan ($118) per tonne. The most-traded May coke contract closed lower at 1,038 yuan ($169) per tonne, compared with the previous day’s close of 1,045 yuan ($170) per tonne.

In other news, Rio Tinto disclosed on Tuesday that it produced 1.6 million tonnes of hard coking coal and 728,000 tonnes of semi-soft coking coal during the fourth quarter of last year. The figures brought its full-year total for hard coking coal to 7.1 million tonnes and semi-soft coking coal to 3.2 million tonnes – year-on-year falls of 8% and 17%, respectively.

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