SHANGHAI, Nov. 24 (SMM) – Coking coal prices are expected to stay high before Chinese New Year holiday in late January as supply will remain tight, Shanghai Metals Market predicts.
“Supply shortages are due mainly to limited rising room for output after completing annual production targets and already high utilization rates from high prices,” SMM analyst says.
Meanwhile, steel mills, with low inventories compared with previous average level, will need to replenish before the holiday. Domestic coal mines will suspend production for the holiday, with halts lasting from 7(stated-owned mine) to 25 (private mines) days, SMM learns.
Moreover, domestic steel mills have shifted to domestic coking coal due to higher prices of imported sources, intensifying supply tightness, SMM survey finds.
“The shortfalls will be also intensified by tight railway transportation capacity before holiday, higher truck transportation fees and cold weather in north China,” SMM points out.
However, domestic coal mines, largely state-owned mines, will face political pressures in raising prices further.
Coke prices are expected to be less solid than coking coal, SMM says.
Currently, coking plants enjoy fat profits, no inventory pressures and smooth sales. Steel mills show low acceptance to further coke price rise, as utilization rates at blast furnaces are destined to go down due to environment protection inspections and seasonally waning demand.
According to SMM data, coking coal price rose two times nationwide in November, i.e. 70-150 yuan per tonne in early month and 90-150 yuan in mid month. The high-grade coking coal of low sulfur and ash in Linfen (A9.5 S0.4G90Y16), Shanxi province, is currently quoted 1,600 yuan per tonne (ex-factory price), up 260 yuan during the month.
Coke price jumped three times nationwide, i.e., 80-100 yuan per tonne in early month, 150 yuan on Nov. 7th and 150 yuan on Nov. 16th. Some Coke plants raised its 1st grade coke offers by 380 yuan to 2,200 yuan per tonne (ex-factory price).