Asian Coal: Here’s What You Need to Know

Huge increase in Indian thermal coal imports recently.

India brought in 9.95 million tonnes of thermal during April, data released this week showed. A 48% jump.

This is getting near to the import demand of Asia’s other big coal importer: China.

Chinese coal imports in April totaled 28.7 million tonnes. However, that figure includes both metallurgical and thermal coal.

We don’t know exactly what the mix is. But it’s safe to say that thermal coal imports are only a fraction of that number. Meaning Indian demand is catching up.

One more important data point: Japan is also getting in on the thermal action. Chubu Electric Trading said this month it is trial-burning low-calorific coal at some of its power plants.

If successful, Chubu (and other firms in Japan) may look to import more thermal coal, to reduce overall power-generation costs.

All this comes as thermal coal producers are getting beat up in the market. Because of fear about a legislated reduction in Chinese low-calorific coal imports. Indonesia’s biggest miner Bukit Asam is down 25% the past month. Peabody is as cheap as it was at the peak of the 2008 crisis.

Might be a little overdone.

Here’s to all the Asian tigers,

Dave Forest

dforest@piercepoints.com / @piercepoints / Facebook

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