Australian fob hard coking coal prices drop sharply, buyers eye low point

Australian coking coal prices took a further hit on Monday March 31, with export values for lower-grade material dropping more than $2 from levels seen at the end of last week.

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Steel First’s hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was calculated at $98.58 per tonne, down $2.01 from Friday. The cfr hard coking coal index stood at $110.55 per tonne on Monday, down by $0.08 per tonne

Steel First’s premium hard coking coal index for material sold on a cfr Jingtang basis was calculated at $120.64 per tonne on Monday, unchanged from levels seen on Friday.

The premium hard coking coal index fob Australia’s DBCT port was $109.18, down by $0.95 from Friday. .

More are starting to feel that the seaborne market has reached a bottom, however. They pointed to the miners’ reluctance to ship cargoes at the current low prices, low inventory levels at mills and coke plants, and declining stockpiles at the ports.

As of Monday, Jingtang port reportedly held a total of 4.57 million tonnes of coking coal, down from 4.64 million tonnes a week earlier. This compares with the 5.3 million tonnes seen in early February. Rizhao port’s inventory has been mostly steady in the past few weeks, at about 2 million tonnes, as opposed to the 2.17 million tonnes recorded in early February.

“My personal opinion is that this is the low point now, and if people are not buying at the moment, they could miss out on it,” a trading source told Steel First.

Nevertheless, he too admitted that he was a bit scared of making bookings.

The most-traded September coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 836 yuan ($136) per tonne on Monday, down from Friday’s close of 842 yuan ($137) per tonne. The most-traded September coke contract also closed lower at 1,220 yuan ($197) per tonne, compared with the previous close of 1,223 yuan ($198) per tonne.

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