LONDON: China has re-emerged as a small-scale and high-priced supplier of coal to the Indian market but some Indian traders said they had questions about how much the country had available for export.
“I’ve been offered good quality Shenhua coal, 5,800kc/kg net (Net As Received, NAR) at $102.00-$104.00 a tonne FOB but it’s not clear how much tonnage is really available,” one Indian trader said.
Others said Chinese suppliers, particularly Shenhua, were keen to sell and had offered several cargoes at a time for Q1 and Q2 loading. “There is no shortage. You can get any quantity you need, prompt,” another trader said.
Indian traders are finding it easier to sell Asian coal such as Chinese or Indonesian to a range of consumers in the power, cement and sponge iron sectors because these coal origins are cheaper on a delivered basis than South African.
Some Indian traders have been selling South African cargoes and replacing them with Asian origin coal.
“The only problem with the Chinese sellers is that they haven’t been sticking to the agreed price,” a third Indian trader said.
“I bought cargoes in December at $85.00/T FOB and when prices rose, they wouldn’t ship them unless we agreed a higher price,” he added.
China is set to remain a net importer through 2008. Although China is by far the world’s biggest coal producer, its exports, which represent a tiny fraction of its production, have been falling while imports into the south have risen sharply.
However, traders expect Chinese suppliers to sell some spot cargoes from time to time during 2008 when prices of over $100.00/T FOB can be achieved.