Australia exported 12.45 million tonnes of coking coal in April, down 5% from the previous month, according to the latest Kpler's cargo-tracking data.
Australia mainly exported coal through five ports last month – Hay Point, Gladstone and Abbot Point, Kembla and Newcastle.
Three of these ports are located in Queensland. According to their respective cargo handling, more than 90% of Australia's coking coal exports came from Queensland. Of that, 55% was exported via Hay Point.
Hay Point port is one of the largest coal export ports in the world and consists of two coal export terminals - Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal and Hay Point Services Coal Terminal.
Kpler's data showed that coking coal exports from Hay Point port were 6.84 million tonnes in April, down 7% from the previous month. During the month, supply was affected as heavy rainfalls flooded mines and infrastructure. Meanwhile, coal miners found it hard to deliver goods due to the adverse weather and the COVID-19-led shortage of labors. As a result, the number of vessels queuing outside the Dalrymple Bay and the Hay Point terminals increased to nearly 40 in April.
In addition, the accident-induced closure of a coal mine owned by Anglo American, a major customer of the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal, also impacted supply.
According to reports, at the end of March, an accident occurred at Anglo American's Moranbah North coal mine in central Queensland, in which a 59-year-old worker died of a serious head injury while working, causing suspension of all mining activities in the mining field. Located in Bowen Basin, Queensland, the mine mainly produces hard coking coal.
This, coupled with the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anglo American has lowered its 2022 coking coal export target from 20-22 million tonnes to 17-19 million tonnes.
In April, Australia's coking coal exports overall decreased by 5% month on month. Industry analysts believe that this can also be attributed to high prices and the reduction of panic purchases caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Although the price in April has fallen significantly from the previous record level of $670/t, it remained at a high position.
On April 29, the FOB price of Peak Downs coking coal was $518.0/t, and that of mid-volatile premium coking coal in Australia was $481.5/t. The former soared by 376% over the same period last year, while the latter surged 364%. High coal prices have weakened buyers' willingness to purchase to a certain extent.
As the Russia-Ukraine conflicts remain in a stalemate and tend to develop into a protracted matter, the panic purchasing sentiment in the market has weakened. More than one end user was reselling goods and some buyers shifted to a wait-and-see attitude due to the high volatility of the market.
For the short-term outlook, some coal miners may increase production in May-June in order to achieve their annual goals, and demand from major buyers such as India and Japan is expected to remain firm as Australian coal supplies increase.
However, market participants expect that Australia's coking coal exports in May would be constrained by weather factors, with a risk for further decline.
(Writing by Emma Yang Editing by Tammy Yang)
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