At Coaltrans India, Wood Mackenzie says India will be central to supporting growth in the global seaborne metallurgical (met) coal market this year, with a two million t rise in imports on the cards. Overall however, global growth in the seaborne market will remain broadly subdued thanks to expectations for a further retreat in Chinese imports of 4-5 million t. Following on from last year, China’s appetite for imports has waned thanks to a combination of a slowing steel sector, lower coke prices and the continued uncertainty regarding trace element standards being enforced on met coal imports.
Ronnie Cecil, Principal Steel Analyst for Wood Mackenzie says, “In 2015, the combined net increase in global seaborne demand will just about be sufficient to offset the negative China impact this year. India offers the main ray of hope with steel production growth on course to advance 4% this year boosting demand for imported met coal. Growth wise semi-soft coking coal (SSCC) and pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal, both used in steelmaking, will continue to see imports rise sharply thanks to steelmakers’ ongoing focus on hot metal cost reduction. Meanwhile, the scarcity of good quality premium hard coking coal locally will continue to support imports.”
Looking further ahead, India is expected to remain a key driver of global met coal trade growth over both the medium and long term. Of the 123 million t rise in global trade projected by Wood Mackenzie out to 2035, India is expected to account for 40% of this, with China contributing 28%. Mr Cecil says, “We expect rising Indian demand to overtake Japan - currently the biggest importer - in 2025 before reaching parity with China by 2035. This begs the question of whether India will be the next China.”
For the medium term from now to 2020, Wood Mackenzie says China is expected to resume its charge on the coal import front, with imports heading over 100 million t. However, with peak hot metal demand set to kick-in around the same time at 880 million t, this will temper further upside for Chinese coal imports longer term. For India, it is very much the reverse of this story. Mr Cecil explains, “While the potential for huge steel consumption growth is there in India, the capacity to satisfy that demand is likely to take a longer timeframe compared to China as it is typically constrained by bureaucratic procedures, regulations and permitting issues. As a result, we are less bullish over the medium term anticipating steel growth of 4-5% per annum, before ramping up to 6-7% per annum in the longer term to 2035. This in-turn will skew most of the 51 million t coal import growth in India towards the 2020-2035 timeframe.”
In summary, Mr Cecil says, “India’s steel sector tells of a positive story through to the longer term. For now, it is not a dominant force but it is clearly starting to show strength in supporting demand through a very weak and oversupplied global market. It is also one to watch to understand the shift in demand growth concentration when China does eventually reach peak iron and steel demand.”
Edited from various sources by Joe Green
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/04032015/india-drive-demand-growth-wood-mackenzie-2004/