Coal prices have finally strengthened slightly after weakening in the previous two days. During Wednesday’s trade (15/2/2023), the March contract stone price on the ICE Newcastle market managed to reach US$ 196 per ton, an increase of around 0.77% compared to the previous day’s price.
Despite experiencing a slight increase, coal prices are still moving below the level of US$ 200 and have not been able to strengthen significantly due to low demand, especially for thermal coal.
The price of thermal coal in China even fell to its lowest level in a year. The benchmark price for thermal coal in China this week is in the range of CNY 1,000 or around US$ 147, down about 40% from the highest price reached last September.
Meanwhile, thermal coal prices have continued to weaken since the beginning of 2023. Although it is expected to increase after the long Chinese New Year holiday at the end of January. This increase did not occur because industrial activity was not strong enough to absorb the existing supply.
Coal supplies in Chinese ports are still piling up, even port operators are asking sellers to offer lower prices. Many traders bid coal prices around CNY 900, which makes coal prices even weaker.
The outlook for coal prices will largely be determined by the speed of China’s economic recovery. Although many predict coal prices will still weaken, signs of increased industrial activity can be good news.
The China Electricity Council said electricity production from coal plants increased 28% in the week ending February 9 compared to the previous year. This shows that the demand for coal is still quite large.
Australia’s largest coal company, Whitehaven Coal, also believes that demand for coking coal will increase with stronger industrial activity. Even so, the prospect of coal prices still needs to be monitored because it is influenced by many factors. Including global economic developments and government policies.