US met coal suppliers expect belated supply tensions

  • Spanish Market: Coking coal, Metals
  • 03/05/24

US coking coal prices have so far brushed off any impact of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore on 26 March and the subsequent disruption of vessel traffic via the Port of Baltimore.

Suppliers such as Arch Resources and Blackhawk that utilise the Baltimore shipping route have sought effective alternative arrangements so far and buyers have been largely comfortable despite some delays in laycans. Other suppliers such as Northern Appalachia's largest producer, Consol Energy's Bailey mine, which is a key supplier to Atlantic end-users, have faced more challenges, market participants suggest.

The decline in fob Australia coal prices from last year's highs amid improved supply availability has also weighed on prices. The Argus assessed premium low-volatile coking coal fob Australia price was at $242.80/t on 3 May, largely unchanged from $254/t on 26 March after reaching a low of $224/t on 8 April. The US east coast prices have followed a similar trajectory, with low-volatile fob US east coast at $215/t today down from $220/t on 26 March after falling to a low in April.

Low European demand has been one of the reasons behind the tepid response to coking coal shipment delays from the US. But with expectations of at least some recovery in the second half of 2024 and still no firm date on when the Baltimore traffic will return to normal, some US suppliers suggest coking coal prices may face some upward pressure later this year.

Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal has kept its apparent steel demand outlook in Europe unchanged for 2024, expecting a growth of 2-4pc on the year.

European steel association Eurofer downgraded its apparent steel consumption outlook for 2024 again, to 3.2pc from a previous forecast of 5.6pc, owing to worsening geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, energy prices, inflation and higher interest rates. But this would still be an improvement from a 9pc fall in steel consumption in 2023.

There is also optimism among US coal suppliers that Brazil may be a source of renewed demand in the coming months with domestic steel production expected to improve. The Brazilian government is due to increase taxes for some imported steel products after facing pressure from the domestic steel industry to apply tariffs on imports, in particular on Chinese steel. Taxes will be increased to 25pc on 11 steel products — mainly flat rolled — contingent on such import levels exceeding prescribed quotas, the trade ministry's committee on foreign commerce, Gecex/Camex, said. Brazil's crude steel output reached 31.9mn t in 2023, down by 6.5pc on the year, World Steel Association data show.

In the US, the fall in seaborne met coal prices also points to potential consolidation in the sector and the possibility of supplies tightening down the road. Industry participants highlight that some of the small and mid-sized mining operations that have emerged in the past two years amid a strong price environment are struggling. Bens Creek Group, which operates the Bens Creek Mining project in West Virigina with around 30,000-35,000st (27,200-31,800t) per month of coking coal output, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.

The year-to-date average price of high-volatile A for 2024 stands at $242.62/t fob Hampton Roads and is estimated to be above production costs for some of these mines. In 2022, high-volatile A prices averaged $347.81/t fob Hampton Roads, driven by a combination of market concerns over the Russia-Ukraine conflict and supply disruptions in Australia.

While Russian coking coal remains available and competitively priced in the market, in particular a key supply source for China, US sanctions will continue to put pressure on major coal importers such as India and South Korea to reduce their Russian imports. The US announced fresh sanctions against Russian coal producer Sibanthracite's group of companies earlier this week.


Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

14/06/24

FAA, EASA probe Boeing, Airbus Ti parts

FAA, EASA probe Boeing, Airbus Ti parts

Houston, 14 June (Argus) — The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are investigating whether falsified documents were used to verify the authenticity of titanium used in parts manufactured by Spirit Aerosystems and others for Boeing and Airbus jets. The US probe arose after Boeing alerted the federal regulator that material was procured through a distributor "who may have falsified or provided incorrect records," the FAA told Argus . The FAA is looking into the scope and impact of the issue. The EASA was notified by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac) of the issue and has subsequently started an investigation to determine if the traceability issue also has safety implications, an EASA spokesperson told Argus . There is currently no evidence of a safety issue in the fleet, it added, but it will investigate the root cause and monitor new developments. "This is about titanium that has entered the supply system via documents that have been counterfeited," a Spirit spokesperson told Argus . Boeing added that the issue affected some titanium shipments received by a "limited set of suppliers," including its fuselage maker Spirit, and relates to a "very small number of parts" on any of its aircraft. Boeing declined to specify on which programs and for what components the titanium in question was used, but it said the correct titanium alloy was used. Affected parts were produced from 2019-2023, Spirit said. Boeing is removing suspect parts on its planes before delivering them to customers for compliance purposes, but confirmed its in-service fleet is safe to operate based on an internal analysis, it said. Airbus confirmed the airworthiness of its A220 aircraft after conducting "numerous tests" on parts coming from the same source of supply, and said it is working in close collaboration with its supplier, an Airbus spokesperson told Argus . Spirit removed the units from production and performed over 1,000 tests to ensure the "mechanical and metallurgical properties" of the titanium continued to meet airworthiness standards. Spirit supplies an array of parts to Airbus and Boeing including fuselages, pylons, and wing structures. Titanium alloys are typically used in engine components such as turbines and compressor blades, landing gears and fasteners. Aerospace companies including Airbus and Boeing earlier this year formed a coalition to help prevent unauthorized parts from entering the supply chain. It followed actions taken by CFM International, and its parent companies GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines, last years in response to engine parts sold by British distributor AOG Technics with forged documents. By Alex Nicoll and Samuel Wood Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government


14/06/24
14/06/24

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

Cape Town, 14 June (Argus) — South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) political parties today agreed to form a government while the first sitting of the new parliament was underway. The agreement, which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), paves the way for ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa to be re-elected president. The parties will assume various positions in government broadly in proportion to their share of seats. The government of national unity (GNU) agreement is the result of two weeks of intense negotiations after the ANC lost its long-held majority in the national election on 29 May. It secured 40.2pc of the vote, and the centre-right, pro-market DA retained its position as the official opposition with 21.8pc. The deal scuppers the possibility of an alliance between the ANC and the two largest left-wing parties, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which credit ratings agency Fitch warned could pose risks to macroeconomic stability . MK party unseated the EFF in the election to come third, winning 14.6pc of the vote. The EFF secured 9.5pc, and the IFP came a distant fifth with 3.85pc. The MK and EFF are populist parties that campaigned on agendas including wide-scale land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of economic assets — including mines, the central bank and large banks and insurers — halting fiscal consolidation and aggressively increasing social grants. The GNU parties agreed the new administration should focus on rapid economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development and fiscal sustainability. Other priorities include building a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service, as well as strengthening law enforcement agencies to address crime and corruption. Through a national dialogue that will include civil society, labour and business, parties will seek to develop a national social compact to enable South Africa to meet its developmental goals, they said. The GNU will take decisions in accordance with the established practice of consensus, but where no consensus is possible a principle of sufficient consensus will apply. By Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project


14/06/24
14/06/24

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project

Tokyo, 14 June (Argus) — Japanese upstream firm Inpex has decided to invest in a hybrid solar and battery project in the Australian state of New South Wales, aiming to boost its renewable energy business abroad. Inpex reached a final investment decision on the Quorn Park Hybrid project in Australia, a joint venture project with Italian utility Enel's wholly-owned Australian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power Australia (EGPA), the Japanese firm announced on 14 June. The project consists of solar farm construction and power generation with a photovoltaic and battery system. Batteries are usually a necessary back-up power source to stabilise power grids that utilise renewable energy. The project aims to produce around 210GWh/yr from solar power with around 40MWh/yr from battery storage, according to EGPA, with an operational capacity of around 98MW for solar and 20MW for battery. The firms plan to start construction during the second half of 2024, before it starts commercial operations during the first half of 2026, according to an Inpex representative that spoke to Argus . The Japanese firm did not disclose the investment amount but the investment value for construction of the project is estimated at "over $190mn", according to EGPA's website. Inpex bought a 50pc stake in EGPA in July 2023, with an aim of expanding its renewable generation portfolio. The firm regards Australia as a "core area" for boosting its renewable energy business, according to Inpex. By Yusuke Maekawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japan’s scrap export tender slips in June


13/06/24
13/06/24

Japan’s scrap export tender slips in June

Singapore, 13 June (Argus) — The monthly export tender of Japanese scrap dealer co-operative Kanto Tetsugen for June settled lower compared with May but remained above recent market levels, providing support to the export market and prices. The June tender concluded at an average of ¥51,364/t ($327.20/t) fas for 25,000t of H2 scrap, a fall of ¥1,226/t from May. This brought the fob price to an equivalent of ¥52,364/t or $333.60/t. The first 10,000t settled at ¥51,510/t with the second 15,000t at ¥51,267/t. The two shipments are expected to head for Vietnam and Bangladesh. Several market participants expect the export market to be supported, despite the tender result concluding lower against May, as it was above recently traded levels. The export market has faced significant downwards pressure over the past month, with the H2 fob price falling by ¥2,400/t because of sluggish demand and low price expectations from Taiwanese and Vietnamese buyers. The Argus H2 fob Japan assessment was ¥50,200/t on 12 June, while the May monthly average was ¥51,381/t fob Japan. The latest tender price aligns with the domestic price in the Kanto region, which may become the new target price for exporters. The H2 collection price at Tokyo Steel's Utsunomiya plant was ¥51,500/t delivered to the steel mill. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US Fed signals one rate cut this year


12/06/24
12/06/24

US Fed signals one rate cut this year

Houston, 12 June (Argus) — The US Federal Reserve kept its target interest rate unchanged at a 23-year high today while officials signaled they expect to make only one quarter-point rate cut later this year. The Fed board and policymakers, in their latest economic projections, expect the target rate range will end 2024 near a midpoint of 5.1pc, compared with the 4.6pc midpoint projected in March. That implies one quarter-point cut, down from three possible cuts penciled-in previously. "We do not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until we have gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably" towards the Fed goal of 2pc, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said after the meeting. "As the economy evolves, appropriate assessments of the policy path will adjust in order to best promote our maximum employment and price stability goals." The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held the federal funds target rate unchanged at 5.25-5.5pc. It was the sixth consecutive meeting in which the Fed held rates steady following 11 increases from March 2022 through July last year in the most aggressive hiking campaign in four decades. The decision to keep rates steady was widely expected. CME's FedWatch tool, which tracks fed funds futures trading, had assigned a 99pc probability to the Fed holding rates steady today. The FedWatch tool had earlier signaled two rate cuts later this year, but following a better-than-expected inflation report this morning, FedWatch is now indicating three possible rate cuts, beginning in September. The Fed's economic projections see core Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation, the Fed's favorite measure of inflation, ending 2024 at a median forecast of 2.8pc from a prior forecast for 2.6pc. Policymakers see inflation falling to a median 2.3pc next year. The outlook for the unemployment rate for the end of 2024 remained unchanged at 4pc. Policymakers expect gross domestic product (GDP) growth to end the year at 2.1pc, unchanged from prior projections. The latest policy meeting comes as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) eased to an annual 3.3pc in May , down from 3.4pc in April, the Labor Department reported earlier today. Inflation had ticked up to 3.5pc in March from 3.1pc in January, prompting the Fed to turn more cautious about beginning its rate cuts. US job growth has surprised to the upside and continues to top pre-Covid levels. GDP growth slowed to a 1.3pc annual rate in the first quarter, from 3.4pc in the fourth quarter of 2023. By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more