Asian seaborne met coal market stable on weak demand

The Asian seaborne metallurgical coal spot market was largely stable on Tuesday September 16 as demand remained sluggish.

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Top Australian brands were heard traded at $121-125 per tonne cfr China, while lower-rank premium hard coking coal was changing hands at about $115 per tonne.

For second-tier hard coking coals, few materials were available in the market at the moment.

Steel First’s cfr Jingtang premium hard coking coal was calculated at $122.26 per tonne, up $0.55 on the day. The cfr Jingtang hard coking coal index was up $0.27 to $107.42 per tonne.

The fob Australia premium hard coking coal index was up $0.01 to $111.94 per tonne, while the fob Australia hard coking coal index went up $1.88 to $98.52 per tonne.

“There’s no sign as of yet of any restocking activity from buyers for the winter,” a trading source told Steel First. The trader added that he was only sourcing material from suppliers when there was firm customer demand to minimise risks.

Several mill sources said they have no immediate demand for material, with one suggesting he would not actively seek cargoes until the end of the year.

In Japan, no numbers have been tabled for the fourth-quarter benchmark, but sources said a settlement is expected sometime next week, when Australian miners visit the country.

While a roll-over is widely expected, a trading source said the current market is “not healthy” and more mines would be shut if the $120-per-tonne benchmark continues.

In other news, China will ban the import and domestic sale of coal with high ash and sulphur content from 2015 onwards in a bid to tackle its pollution woes. However, as coking coal is largely spared from the new ruling, the impact on the market has been minimal.

On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the most-traded January coking coal futures contract closed at 788 yuan ($128) per tonne on Tuesday, down from Monday’s close of 794 yuan ($129) per tonne.

The most-traded January coke contract also closed lower, at 1,082 yuan ($176) per tonne, than the previous trading day’s close of 1,091 yuan ($177) per tonne.

The yuan prices are the equivalent of cfr prices plus 17% VAT and port charges of about 35 yuan ($6) per tonne.