World coal market: brief overview

European thermal coal indices trended positively last week, climbing above 140 USD/t amid the suspension of Nord Stream 2 certification by Germany’s federal grid agency, while Russian FOB Ust-Luga 6000 rose to 165 USD/t.

Due to ongoing problems with the railway line between South Africa’s coal-producing provinces and the port of Richards Bay, key importers of South African material, such as India and Pakistan, have taken a wait-and-see attitude, with South African prices rising above 135 USD/t. Coal stocks at Richards Bay terminals remain at less than 3 mio t, which may cause disruptions to exports of the material.

South African railway operator Transnet announced that more than 1,000 km of copper cable, intended for the installation of a railway line, was stolen between January and October 2021. According to the company, 1,190 trains were canceled over the past year resulting from safety violations.

In China spot prices for 5,500 kcal/kg NAR were in the range of 165–170 USD/t FOB Qinhuangdao. China significantly increased coal extraction to record levels, but despite this the Chinese authorities are again urging coal companies to lift output volumes.

In Australia, FOB Newcastle prices were kept at the level of 150 USD/t amid anti-coal protests in the region, disrupting rail shipments to the port of Newcastle.
Lower trading activity by Chinese consumers owing to the enhanced coal production in China had a negative impact on indices of Indonesian 5,900 kcal/kg GAR, which plunged below 145 USD/t.

Poor demand for coking material by Asian steel mills weakened prices for metallurgical coal from Australia below 370 USD/t.

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