Canadian Mining Journal


Editorial: Metallurgical coal prices go through the roof

While so much attention this year has focused on gold, it’s metallurgical coal that has suddenly become the unlikely star performer of 2016.

Traders in metallurgical coal, also known as “coking coal,” saw the Steel Index price of premium hard coking coal jump another US$14.80 per tonne on Sept. 13 to a record US$195.70 per tonne, or up 20% in a week.

Since July, metallurgical coal prices have risen an astonishing 111%, and are up almost 150% since the start of the year, making metallurgical coal the best performing commodity of 2016.

Some analysts have commented that they haven’t seen such levels of “panic buying” since 2011, when widespread floods in key coal export regions in Queensland sent the price soaring to US$335 a tonne.

The latest price driver is the Chinese government’s decision to restrict the number of operating days at Chinese metallurgical coal mines to 276 days from the traditional 330 (i.e., operating roughly five days a week instead of the previous six days a week).

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