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Japan, China boost Australian coal exports in April

01 May 2013 15:57:38 | csd

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Shipments of coal from Australia's Newcastle port in April were up nearly 8%, with Chinese and Japanese companies importing more, ICIS estimates, based on the latest port data.

Newcastle Port Corporation figures released on Wednesday show 11.05m tonnes of coal were shipped from the three terminals during 1-29 April.

The two Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) terminals, Carrington and Kooragang, shipped 9.45m tonnes over 1-30 April, the Hunter Valley Chain Coordinator's monthly report also out Wednesday reveals.

This indicates that 1.6m tonnes were loaded in April from the third terminal, owned by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG), bearing in mind that the period for the aggregate port data is just one day shorter than for Carrington and Kooragang. NCIG does not publish port data.

Exports to Japan from the PWCS-owned terminals increased by 17% month on month, up to 4.84m tonnes. China's imports from the two terminals increased, too - by 9.5% to 2.1m tonnes.

Week on week, exports were up 23% from the Australian port in the week ending 29 April, the Newcastle Port Corporation data shows. This is in spite of an expectation that demand for coal from the free on board (FOB) Newcastle market would weaken.

The pick-up might have been driven by shippers exporting coal ahead of public holidays in China from 29 April to 30 May. Moving forward, many market participants think Chinese buyers will not start to buy significant volumes until autumn.

Chinese buyers are generally more interested in 5,500kcal/kg NAR coal, but the export figures are for all types of coal.

Japanese buyers import most of their coal through annual supply deal. The latest settlement between Australian coal producers and Japanese utilities was $95/tonne (€72/tonne) (see CSD 11 April 2013).

The anticipated decrease in Asian demand has pushed down the price of physical cargoes further out on the curve. August-loading cargoes sold for $86.75/tonne this week, while June cargoes were bid at $88/tonne on Tuesday, according to broker globalCOAL.

The Hunter Valley Chain Coal Coordinator forecasts 20 vessels to be waiting to load at PWCS terminals at the end of May.

Currently, 17 ships are waiting outside the two terminals, up from a revised mid-April forecast of 15 vessels. The coordinator's original forecast was higher, at 20.

The higher exports during the last week of April drove a 19% week-on-week fall in coal stockpiles at the two PWCS terminals, to 1.23m tonnes. The figure is above the end-of-week average for the year to date, 1.07m tonnes. Fionn O'Raghallaigh

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