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South Africa Coal Stays Near 18-Month High on European Demand
June 07, 2010, 7:20 AM EDT
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By Alistair Holloway
June 7 (Bloomberg) — Prices for coal shipped from South Africa’s Richards Bay, the continent’s biggest export facility for the fuel, were little changed near an 18-month high because of strong European demand in May.
Richards Bay Coal Terminal export prices fell 0.4 percent to an average $92.41 a metric ton in the four days through June 4, according to IHS McCloskey. They reached $95.75 at the end of April, the highest since Nov. 7, 2008.
“Fundamentals for Western European coal-burn remained strong, with May coal-burn coming in at about 4 percent higher, year-on-year, supported by unusually colder weather,” Amrita Sen, an analyst with Barclays Capital in London, said in a report e-mailed on June 4. “In addition to China, demand from other Asian countries remains robust. Even Japan is showing signs of recovery. India remains the other key bright spot in the Pacific market.”
South Africa is boosting exports to the East as India and China recover from last year’s slowdown. More than half its production is now going to Asia, according to McCloskey. The Richards Bay terminal is owned by South Africa’s largest coal exporters, including BHP Billiton Ltd., Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc.
Barclays cut its estimate for Richards Bay’s coal exports this year by six million tons to 64 million tons following a strike at Transnet Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned transport company, that started May 10. The dispute was called off at the end of May after unions accepted an 11 percent wage increase and a one-time payment of 1 percent of workers’ salaries.
Richards Bay exported 4.57 million tons of coal in May and received 1.95 million tons by rail. Stocks at the terminal fell to 2.04 million tons, their lowest level since December 2007, the terminal said on its website today.
Coal prices at Newcastle, Australia, an Asian benchmark, rose 1.4 percent to $98.16 a ton in the week to June 4, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index. Benchmark European coal derivatives fell for the first time in four sessions. Coal for delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp with settlement next year fell 35 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $99.65 a ton at 10:57 a.m. in London.
The coal derivative data are drawn from information supplied by ICAP Plc, GFI Group Inc., Spectron Group Ltd., Credit Suisse Group AG, IHS McCloskey, Bloomberg and Tradition Financial Services.
McCloskey’s data are an average based on daily price assessments and a market survey. Prior to the week ending April 30, the market survey was only carried out weekly.
–Editors: John Deane, Bruce Stanley.