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Chinese seaborne demand pertinent to Indonesian prices

Slight supply tightness kicks in

Singapore — Heavy rains at Indonesia's Kalimantan province are causing delays in ships re-fueling, which could possibility result in the near-term rise in seaborne thermal coal prices, market sources said Wednesday.

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Rains posed some difficulties for January-loading shipments in South and East Kalimantan, several sources said.

A Singapore-based trader said miners were optimistic that prices would increase due to a rise in inquiries and tightness in supply.

However, Chinese buyers were skeptical if that would lead to a rise in prices, he said.

The price for Supramax vessel cargoes of the Indonesian 4,200 kcal/kg GAR, or 3,800 kcal/kg NAR, coal rose 5.8% compared with the start of fourth-quarter 2019, when the seasonally strong Chinese seaborne demand fueled Kalimantan prices.

An Indonesia-based trader said the rains in Kalimantan had affected the shipment schedule to a large extent.

"My shipment is getting delayed by about three days due to strong wind, high waves, and delayed barge arrival," he said.

"Kalimantan prices should be supported since delays in loading coincide with Chinese seaborne demand," another Indonesia-based trader said.

Some mines near Samarinda, East Kalimantan, were not allowed to dispose the water in the mine pit to the outlet, especially when the water level was quite high, an Indonesia-based producer said.

Meanwhile, other traders shrugged aside concerns of a spike in Kalimantan prices.

"Indonesian coal prices are mainly affected by Chinese policies," an Indonesia-based trader said. "Furthermore, the delay in shipment is also not due to the shortage in supply, so the impact on prices should be minimal."

Another Indonesia-based trader did not expect much impact on coal prices as Chinese buyers will be away from the seaborne market next week ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

"We are worried that prices might dip after the Lunar New Year. As of now, demand should remain scant leading up to the holiday," a third Indonesia-based trader said.