Posted by: mel | June 3, 2009

China overseas coal demand to stay buoyant-miners

Reuters | 2 June 2009

NUSA DUA, Indonesia – China’s demand for overseas coal is expected to stay strong in the second half as long as prices of imported coal maintain a discount to domestic prices, two key Indonesian producers said on Tuesday.

The Indonesian unit of Thai Banpu (BANP.BK) said China’s appetite for coal was still robust, while Indonesia’s No. 2 coal miner PT Adaro (ADRO.JK) also said Chinese demand for imported material was expected to stay robust.

There have been growing concerns among some producers and traders that China’s recent hunger for overseas coal could soon fade following spikes in Asian thermal coal and freight prices in recent weeks, which are fast eroding the price advantage for southern Chinese utilities of purchasing the fuel.

Australian coal prices on the globalCOAL Newcastle index, a benchmark for Asia, jumped by nearly $3 from Friday and struck the psychologically important level of $70 a tonne on Monday, while port coal prices at China’s top coal port Qinhuangdao were hovering at around $92 a tonne.

Some industry participants also said that utilities in southern China might buy less coal in the second half as many would have already contracted large volumes earlier this year to meet part of their full-year requirements.

Banpu’s unit in Indonesia, PT Indo Tambangraya Megah (ITMG.JK), which also has stakes in power plants in China, said some utilities in southern China have been increasing their coal purchases since April as they step up power production.

“As long as there is a difference between domestic and import prices, China will still be buying coal from overseas,” Apimuk Taifayongvichit, chief marketing and logistics planner at Indo Tambangraya Megah, said at the Coaltrans conference in Bali.

“And we do not expect domestic prices to tumble.”

Apimuk also said the firm was looking to acquire coal mines in Indonesia to increase the company’s production. [ID:nJKB001213]

Indonesia’s Adaro also said China’s demand for overseas coal was expected to stay strong in the second half of this year.

“From the signs we’ve seen, going forward, we can only say it is still looking strong in the second half,” said Alastair Grant, Adaro’s marketing director.

Grant said Adaro was expecting to increase sales to China to about 3.5 million tonnes in 2009, compared with about 2 million tonnes last year. He added that the bulk of that 3.5 million tonnes volume had already been contracted.

Indonesia’s largest coal miner, PT Bumi Resources Tbk (BUMI.JK), said on Monday it had sold about 8 million tonnes of coal to China for delivery in 2009. [ID:ID:nJAK444391] (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Ed Davies)

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