“If Chinese end-users don’t come out to buy, then the market is going to fall,” an Indian trader source said.

An East Asian mill source said that end-users had been quiet because they thought that there was nothing in the market to justify the high prices.

“Prices can be sustained just because this is the cyclone season,” he said.

A seller source begged to differ.

“I am neutral to bullish on the metallurgical coal front since demand is still there while there has been no increase in output on the supply side,” he said.

Coal shipments from Australia’s Queensland state - including some thermal coal - fell 4.4% on the year to 15.98 million tonnes in February, according to the latest data from the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp and Gladstone Ports Corp. This is 14% lower compared with January’s 18.56 million tonnes.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-traded May coking coal futures contract closed at 1,347.50 yuan ($212.90) per tonne on Wednesday, down 30.50 yuan per tonne from Tuesday’s closing price.

The benchmark May coke contract closed at 2,151 yuan per tonne, down 43 yuan per tonne for the day.

Metal Bulletin’s fob Australia Premium Hard Coking Coal Index fell $1.56 per tonne to $234.28 per tonne while the cfr China index was unchanged, at $234.88 per tonne.

The hard coking coal indices were both flat, at $201.56 per tonne fob Australia and $211.67 per tonne cfr China.