Posted by: mel | November 11, 2009

Indonesian coal miners: sold big volumes of 2010 to China

Reuters | By Fayen Wong | Perth | 11 November 2009

Indonesian miners have already sold about 20 million tonnes of thermal coal to Chinese buyers for delivery in 2010, and total exports to China could far exceed the volume that will be recorded this year, producers said on Wednesday.

Continued strength in Chinese imports, coupled with an expected rise in Indian demand, could mean that South Korean utilities could be caught short of supplies if they continued to avoid annual contracts and instead focus on spot tenders to secure their fuel needs.

Sources from the top five coal producers in Indonesia, such as Bumi Resources (BUMI.JK: QuoteProfileResearch), PT Adaro Energy (ADRO.JK: QuoteProfileResearch) and PT Kideco, said the total volume of thermal coal sold to China for 2010 delivery has reached at least 15 million tonnes — on par with the total volume China has imported from Indonesia from January to September this year. [ID:nSP283239]

“Chinese buyers have been very eager to sign 2010 term supply contracts. We’ve done some deals and the prices they’ve agreed to are pretty good,” said a source from one of the largest Indonesian coal firms.

The firm’s total thermal coal sales to China for 2010 have so far reached 7 million tonnes, with bituminous coal prices averaging at $66 a tonne FOB based on 5,500 kcal/kg (NAR) and sub-bituminous coal inked at about $56 basis 5,000 kcal/kg (NAR).

He spoke on condition of annonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media because of the confidential nature of the deals.

Another large producer said the firm had agreed to contract 4 million tonnes of sub-bituminous coal to China for 2010, up from the 3.5 million tonnes it will ship in 2009, but prices have not yet been agreed.

“Chinese buyers are looking to lock in more tonnage but quite frankly, we’ve already sold out for our 2010 supplies. We don’t have any more coal to sell,” he said.

Thanks to Chinese demand, coal prices have rebounded 33 percent from a near two-year low of around $58 a tonne struck in late March to above $77 this week, based on globalCOAL’s Newcastle index. [COAL/ASIA]

S.KOREAN UTILITIES CAUGHT SHORT?

In an effort to exploit the sharp swing in coal prices this year, South Korean utilities have avoided annual contracts with most Indonesian and Australian producers and instead launched a raft of spot tenders to secure supplies when prices were low.

But some producers said that procurement strategy, which has served them well this year, could backfire in 2010.

Strength in Chinese imports, growing Indian demand, along with a forecast rebound in domestic coal needs, could combine to soak up a large proportion of Indonesian coal, producers and traders said.

“There’s a chance that the South Korean utilities could misread the market and be caught short of supplies if they keep thinking that they can bank on spot tenders,” said the first producer source. “They could turn to Australia, but that will mean higher prices because of freight rates.”

Indonesia, which is expected to produce 250 million tonnes of coal in 2010, plans to cap coal exports at 150 million tonnes by as early as next year, to ensure domestic supply, an official said on Wednesday, in a move that could eventually curb supply from the world’s top thermal coal exporter. [ID:nJAK86092] (Additional reporting by Fitri Wulandari in JAKARTA and Rujun Shen in SHANGHAI) (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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