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Newcastle coal shipments rise week on week as prices slide

08 May 2012 15:57:16 | csd

Coal shipments from Australia's Newcastle port rose by 1.8% week on week to 2.75m tonnes in the seven-day period ending on 7 May, according to the port's operations report.

Despite the increase in tonnes handled, the number of vessels dropped to 30 from 31 in the previous week, reducing the average waiting time to 7.0 days, from 7.8 days in the week before. The number of vessels off port waiting to load also dropped to seven, from 10 ships waiting in the previous week.

The two coal terminals operated by Port Waratah Coal Services at Newcastle port held 1.27m tonnes of stock at midnight on 7 May, according to the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator website. The coordinator consists of approximately 35 mines owned by 14 producers, connecting railway lines and two coal terminals at the Newcastle port.

Physical prices drop

FOB Newcastle coal prices for the 6,000kCal/kg coal have been declining steadily since September 2011 because Japanese demand is low and an abundance of US and Colombian coal sold into Asia is undercutting prices of traditional suppliers into Asia such as South Africa, Indonesia and Australia.

On Monday a 25,000-tonne FOB Newcastle July '12 physical cargo changed hands at $99.00/tonne (through the globalCOAL platform), down from an offer of $99.50/tonne reported on Friday. ICIS data show this was the first Newcastle spot physical trade below $100.00/tonne since 29 October 2010.

Market participants told ICIS last week, that the sharp drop in Australian coal prices has sparked interest with Chinese traders, increasing demand for FOB Newcastle coal (see CSD 3 May 2012).

South Africa

FOB RB physical coal values also dropped to their lowest level in more than 18 months last week, with a capesize June '12 cargo changing hands at $7.00/tonne on 2 May, ICIS data shows.

Despite low prices, thermal coal exports at South Africa's Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) dropped by 17.1% month on month in April to 5.17m tonnes, the terminal's figures showed on Tuesday.

RBCT received 6m tonnes in April, down by 5.5% from the 6.3m tonnes received in March.

The drop in exports led to an increase in stocks to 3.6m tonnes from 3.0m tonnes held at the end of March, the terminal said. MV

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