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Newcastle October coal exports up despite sharp drop in week 44 volumes

04 Nov 2013 16:23:59 | csd


The volume of coal shipped from the Australian port of Newcastle fell by nearly a quarter last week to 2.77m tonnes, having reached a record 3.61m tonnes the week before.

Newcastle Port Corporation data released on 4 November shows 23% less coal was shipped week on week from the port’s three terminals in the seven-day period ending 07:00 Sydney time on 4 October.

Despite the week-on-week decline, shipments last week were more or less in line with the same week in 2012, when 2.79m tonnes of coal were shipped.

The sharp cut in exports failed to significantly lift the stocks at the two Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS)-owned terminals, with stocks rising just 3.2% week on week to 1.22m tonnes, data from Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) showed. The third Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group-owned terminal does not publish stock information.

October export breakdown

In October, total exports from PWCS’s two coal terminals rose by 11% month on month to 10.25m tonnes. Of that 78% or 8m tonnes was steam coal, while the remaining 22% or 2.26m tonnes* were coking coal exports.

As usual, the main importer of Australian coal was Japan, who at 5.44m tonnes imported 53% of PWCS’s total October exports, up from 4.06m tonnes imported in September, followed by China, which imported 2.01m tonnes, down from the 2.61m tonnes imported the month before.

The drop in Chinese imports is an expected consequence of rising FOB Newcastle coal prices and low domestic Chinese coal prices.

The ICIS FOB Newcastle physical index recovered sharply in October, although the Australian market was well offered and Asian buyers remained on the sidelines of the international markets. The ICIS FOB Newcastle October ’13 physical index was calculated at $82.555/tonne, up $4.244/tonne compared to the September ‘13 index.

South Korea and Taiwan – which together with Japan and China are the natural buyers of high-quality Australian coal – had open tenders for coal deliveries in October, which lifted their joint coal imports to 2.28m tonnes in October, from just 1.74m tonnes in September, PWCS data show.

New mining operations

Australia’s federal government last Friday approved the Kevin’s Corner coal project in Queensland, which will have the capacity to produce up to 30m tonnes of “export quality thermal coal” annually, the project owner GVK said in a press release. Construction on the project is expected to start in 2015, with first coal produced in 2018. “These projects will offer superior quality low ash, low sulphur and low gas thermal coal, to be reliably exported mainly to Asian destinations,” the company said but gave no details of potential calorific value of the coal. Manca Vitorino

*NOTE: The difference is a result of rounding of the percentages

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