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Boom expected in seaborne metallurgical coal market

World Coal,

The seaborne metallurgical coal market is expected to reach 394 million t by 2035, 51% higher than the 2012 level of 261 million t, according to Jim Truman, principal analyst with Wood Mackenzie.

Truman said most of the growth will occur in Asia, thanks to the expanding Chinese and Indian economies. Asia presently accounts for approximately 69% of seaborne coal demand, with the Atlantic market making up the remaining 31%.

Despite being the world’s largest producer of metallurgical coal, China will continue to import because domestic production is projected to remain on a flat level. Shanxi’s coal production will “tend to look like the production from Central Appalachia,” Truman added. While the depth of coal seams in Shanxi is considerable, there are numerous obstacles to prevent much new production.

Coal producers in India on the other hand are mining a product that cannot be used for steelmaking because of high ash content, meaning there is “very little potential for much market growth”.

Truman explained that Australia would most likely stand to see the greatest benefit in Asian demand for imported metallurgical coal, largely because the country has the lowest cost structure of all world exporters. He estimated that Australia could capture 83% of the project growth by 2030.

The US is expected to continue to decline in the export market by losing 13 million t of its exports by 2030, as other countries continue to offer lower cost material.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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