Singapore — Japanese steelmakers have settled the Australian semi-soft coking coal contract price at $81/mt FOB for April-June loading, $5/mt lower than in Q1 2015, sources reported Wednesday, April 1.
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The deal is likely to be followed by other steelmakers in the region.
It comes after Q2 premium hard coking coal settled at $109.50/mt FOB Australia in March.
For the second quarter, semi-soft accounts for 74% of the premium hard coking coal price, up from 73.5% in Q1.
The long-term contract settlement is several dollars above spot clearing prices into China, which were assessed Tuesday at $82/mt CFR China, equating to an Australian Panamax netback calculation of $74.35/mt FOB Queensland.
Australian semi-soft tends to ship out further south than Queensland, out of Newcastle in New South Wales, and so sales to China would mean a slightly lower FOB Newcastle netback due to higher freight costs.
It is worth noting that Australian producers have largely shunned the Chinese spot market in recent months, perhaps because prices were too low to cover their production costs, or because they generated better returns by selling their coal into the thermal coal market.
The largest Australian suppliers of semi-soft coking coal are Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata.