Seaborne coking coal market propped up by supply side concerns

The seaborne coking coal spot market price rose on Wednesday February 14 as market participants awaited more information regarding Australian rail operator Aurizon’s decision to cut back the number of rail paths amid a disagreement with the Queensland Competition Authority.

Aurizon said on Monday it would “progressively make changes” from now until 2021 that will result in a possible loss of system throughput of “approximately 20 million tonnes annually.” These changes will involve “planned maintenance and capital works,” it said in its half-year report.

“This is no different to a cyclone event,” a supplier source said.

“Suppliers typically don’t get 100% of contracted trains but getting 80% is typical. However, from now on they may only get 60-70% of (contracted trains). This will result in around 2 million tonnes of coking coal out of the market per month, ” a trader source based in Australia said.

He added that traders may now “sit back on their cargoes” in order to get “$10-15 per tonne more.”

Meanwhile, Canadian miner Teck Resources sold 6.4 million tonnes of steelmaking coal in the September-December quarter, down 7.25% year on year from a year earlier, it said in its unaudited quarterly report released February 14.

Teck expects to produce 26-27 million tonnes of steelmaking coal in 2018 and added that “global steel production and demand for steelmaking coal will continue to increase in 2018.”

The most-traded May coking coal futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 1,373.50 yuan ($216.60) per tonne during the day, up 9 yuan per tonne from Tuesday’s closing price.

The most-traded May coke contract closed at 2,141.50 yuan per tonne, up 30 yuan per tonne for the day.

Its fob Australia premium hard coking coal index jumped by $2.19 per tonne to $229.57 per tonne, while its hard coking coal index is flat at $187.51 per tonne.

Metal Bulletin’s cfr China indices are unchanged at $227.23 per tonne for its premium hard coking coal and $199.42 per tonne for its hard coking coal.

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