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CME Group delists US thermal coal futures, ending an era

Highlights

Contracts were launched in 2001 but open interest fell to zero in 2018

Both ICE and CME have delisted US coal futures as market waned

Houston — CME Group has delisted its CSX Coal and Powder River Basin Coal futures and options, the exchange has said.

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The contracts were the last listed for US thermal coal, and marks the end of futures trading for US thermal coal.

The contracts launched in 2001.

No reason was given for the delisting, announce Jan. 11, but the financially-settled contracts have not had any open interest since December 2018, according to S&P Global Platts data. The effective date of the delisting was also Jan. 11.

A request for comment from CME Group was not immediately returned Jan. 13.

The contracts were listed for trading on CME Globex as well as for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort. The contracts launched in 2001.

The CSX Coal futures contract settled on the monthly average of the daily physical price of the Platts Central Appalachia rail (CSX) 12,500 Btu/lb coal assessment, and the Powder River Basin Coal futures contract settled on the monthly average of the daily physical price of the Platts PRB 8,800 Btu/lb coal assessment.

Open interest in the CSX Coal futures contract peaked at 14,195 contracts in June 2013, according to Platts data dating back to August 2009. The futures contract was launched in

Open interest in the Powder River Basin Coal futures contract peaked at 21,350 contracts in May 2013, according to the same Platts data.

The exchange delisted the physically-settled Central Appalachian barge contract at the end of 2016.

CME continues to list futures for several international coal contracts, including the API2 contract for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe.

ICE Futures Europe delisted its financially-settled US coal futures as well as options in March 2020.

There had not been any open interest in those contracts since November 2016 for the similar PRB 8,800 contract; since February 2017 for the similar CAPP rail (CSX) contract; and since August 2017 for the Illinois Basin 11,800 Btu/lb contract.

A number of factors have contributed to the end of US coal futures trading, including the withdrawal of banks and certain trading houses from the market as well as declining coal demand due to inexpensive natural gas, increased renewables generation and strong corporate ESG initiatives that have accelerated coal plant retirements.