Australia’s metallurgical coking coal exports in December continued to recover from October and November to a six-month high, because of firm demand and higher shipping throughput.
Total coking coal exports were at 14.1mn t in December, rising by 9.3pc from 12.9mn t in November, but falling marginally by 0.8pc on the year, according to data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Exports were at 12.1mn t in October and 11.2mn t in September.
Hard coking coal (HCC) shipments were down by 5.5pc on the year but up 2.2pc on the month to 8.78mn t in December. HCC exports to largest buyer India declined in a time of elevated coking coal prices, but this was cushioned by a twofold increase on the month in HCC exports to South Korea.
Weather disruptions continued to weigh on Australian coking coal exports, with long coal queues persisting at major ports. But collective coal shipments in December from Hay Point, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, Abbot Point and Gladstone were up by 2.8pc on the year and rose by 1.7pc on the month to 17.6mn t.
Total Australian exports for 2023 declined by 5.8pc on the year to 151.3mn t, but the government’s commodity forecaster the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) expects coking coal exports to increase to 174mn t in 2024-25 alongside strong global steel consumption.
The Argus premium low-volatile hard coking coal price averaged $326.87/t fob Australia in December, up by 2.3pc from the November average and jumping by 23pc on the year.
The Argus-assessed Australian premium low-volatile hard coking coal price was at $319/t fob Australia on 2 February.
The average export price for Australian hard coking coal was $226.08/t in December, down by 1.1pc from November but rising by 8.7pc on the year. Prices were based on an Australian-US dollar exchange rate of 0.684 used by the ABS for December, up by 2.9pc from November’s rate.
Semi-soft and pulverised coal injection (PCI) grade shipments were at 5mn t in December, increasing by 2.9pc on the year and by 16pc on the month. Exports to largest buyer Japan declined by 10pc on the year, but rose by almost 40pc from a month earlier. The average export price for Australian semi-soft coking coal was $206.65/t in December, up by 1.7pc on the month but falling by 18pc on the year.
The Argus-assessed PCI price averaged $187.19/t in December, down by 1.2pc on the month and falling by over 26pc on the year. The Argus low-volatile PCI price was at $177.35/t fob Australia on 2 February.