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Updated: Weekly coal exports from Australia hit 2013 record

02 Sep 2013 13:55:10 | csd


(Story updated in paragraph three, clarifying the export increase data, and paragraphs five and six expand with Port Waratah data. )

The largest amount of coal so far in 2013 was shipped from the Australian port of Newcastle in the week ending 2 September, latest port data shows, which was probably linked to some winter restocking in the Pacific Basin.

During the seven-day period ending 07:00 hours Sydney time, 3.39m tonnes of thermal and coking coal were loaded onto ships at the port's three terminals and exported from Australia, Newcastle Port Corporation said on Monday.

The 23% week-on-week increase in exports could be linked to Japanese utilities stocking up ahead of the winter. The 10 major Japanese utilities secure most of their coal on term contracts, rather than via the spot market.

Demand from other countries, such as China, is likely weak. The key Bohai-rim steam coal price index dropped again last week by yuan (CNY) 7/tonne (€0.866/tonne) to CNY546/tonne, according to ICIS C1 Energy data. FOB Newcastle 5,500Kcal/kg NAR coal is said to no longer price into China because of current freight rates.

Data for August release on Monday by Port Waratah Coal Services, which operates two of Newcastle's three terminals, shows shipments to China in August were 16% lower than in July, at 2.17m tonnes.

Japan, as is normally the case, imported the largest amount of coal from the two terminals. Buyers from the country accounted for 53% or 4.76m tonnes of the 8.98m tonnes exported from the Port Waratah terminals in August.

The 23% increase in weekly exports happened while the price of FOB Newcastle 6,000Kcal/kg NAR coal had more than $2/tonne sliced off the price of a 25,000-tonne cargo. An October-loading cargo last sold at $77/tonne on Wednesday, down from $79.75/tonne on Tuesday.

The Australian dollar weakened considerably against the US dollar during the past week, which pressured US-denominated cargo prices.

The amount of coal in stock at the two Port Waratah Coal Services-owned terminals also increased last week after they dipped to a 2013 low of 677,765 tonnes on 19 August, which coincided with some major maintenance on the rail lines supplying Newcastle port.

The replenishment of coal stocks last week also pressured the price of FOB Newcastle coal. Stocks remained steady, at just under 1m tonnes on 2 September, Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator data show. No major sustained maintenance is expected on the Newcastle supply routes in September.

Demand at Newcastle looks steady, with 49 vessels granted a notified arrival time and heading for the port. This is down from 54 a week earlier, however. Fionn O'Raghallaigh

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