Indonesia Coal-Prices, Indian demand slows

Kalimantan Coal

Indonesia Coal-Prices climb to $80, Indian demand slows

JAKARTA, July 23 (Reuters) – Prices of power-station coal in Australia, a benchmark for Asia, jumped to nearly $80 a tonne this week, while Indonesian producers turned to local buyers amid slow overseas demand, particularly from Indian buyers, traders said. Thermal coal prices on the globalCOAL Newcastle weekly index rose $3.41 to $78.87 a tonne, from $75.46 a tonne in previous week, on firm spot demand from South Korea and expectations of lower supply from Australia.
Despite the rising Newcastle index, spot prices for Indonesian bituminous coal were softer as Indian buyers preferred to buy South African coal to take advantage of falling freight rates and cheaper prices.
Indonesian bituminous coal of 6,300 kcal/kg air-dried basis was offered at around $57 a tonne, FOB mother vessel, compared with $60 a tonne early this month.
“For bituminous coal, only South African coal is moving to India, mostly for steel and cement factories,” an Indian trader said.
Chinese and South Korean buyers were in the market for Indonesian high-quality coal, providing support, but China was not as aggressive as previous months due to growing local supply grew, another regional trader said.
Plans by Australia Newcastle port, the world’s top coal export terminal, to slash export quotas for all producers by 1 million tonnes for the rest of third quarter, have not prompted more enquiries for Indonesian coal, traders said.
A 25,000-tonne parcel of Australian coal was traded at $77 a tonne on Monday for delivery in October while another 25,000 tonne for delivery in August was traded at $80.50 a tonne on Tuesday.
Fresh domestic demand from textile and cement factories in Java offered support for Indonesian sub-bituminous as Indian demand slowed.
Indonesian sub-bituminous coal of 5,500 kcal/kg ADB was around $34-$35 a tonne, FOB mother vessel from Kalimantan.
“We haven’t received fresh inquiries from Indian buyers but many local buyers asked for an increase in volumes from their existing contracts,” an Indonesian trader said.
Aside from local buyers, there were some Chinese buyers that sought to extend spot purchase contracts, the trader said.
Despite lower coal stock levels at power plants, India had slowed buying of Indonesian low-quality coal as traders waited for government tenders and the monsoon disrupted shipments.
“Power plants are in a wait-and-see mode. There are a lot of contracts that need to be renewed,” the Indian trader said, adding that traders were waiting for India’s government to finalise tenders.
India has said coal stocks with power plans in India halved from normal levels to 11 million tonnes at July 6, with many thermal plants facing uncomfortable supply positions. [ID:nDEL256273]
India’s state-run MMTC (MMTC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) which buys coal on behalf of state utilities has said it may re-issue a tender for 12.5 million tonnes of thermal coal after a complaint from a trader. [ID:nLE494747]
“Wet weather is also very bad. There are a lot of vessels queueing at discharge ports. So everybody is just waiting,” the Indian trader said. (Reporting by Fitri Wulandari, editing by Ben Tan)

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