Weekly SA Coal Report

An image of a table showing coal prices

Photo by African Source Markets

18th October 2021


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Another incredibly volatile week with Chinese domestic prices reaching new highs, although both physical and paper coal markers sold off together with power and gas prices.

As coal continues to lag gas prices, the positive dark spread continues to drive demand for coal in Europe, continuing to squeeze Atlantic freight markets. With most market commentators now talking about high energy prices going into the European winter, we may be seeing some “selling of the fact” after everyone has been “buying the rumour” for weeks now.

China continues to experience power shortages whilst India is slowly recovering their coal stockpiles. It seems hard to believe Indian coal ministry’s plans to eliminate coal imports by 2024. As COP26 approaches, the door is being left open for funders to argue for continued interim funding for “transitional fuels”. Several South African banks have already said they can’t cut off coal funding “just yet”.

The metaphor of Nero fiddling while Rome burned seems apt, as economics trumps everything in the short term, while us humans only really take our medicine when we feel sick. High energy prices are affecting people right now more than climate change, which still seems a distant concept to many.

However, the best cure for high prices is always high prices and there are signs of demand destruction setting in now, amongst both European gas and coal markets.

Transnet’s woes continue in South Africa, as a fire at their Richards Bay bulk terminal affected portside operations. This does not seem to have had an impact on the main privately-owned RBCT terminal.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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