The Argus-assessed US low volatile coal price is unchanged at $162/t fob Hampton Roads, in line with the latest cfr China deals, as any European spot requirement is fulfilled by lower-priced Australian coals. The high volatile A and B prices are stable at $156/t fob Hampton Roads and $137.50/t fob Hampton Roads, respectively, after rising by $1/t yesterday on the back of supply limitations.
Overall spot tightness among major suppliers has meant that market indications for high-vol A remain in the mid-$150s/t, with one US miner indicatively expecting $158-160/t fob Hampton Roads if it had any volumes to offer. A European steelmaker was heard to be seeking 70,000t of April-loading high vol A for its eastern European operations, but it is unclear if this requirement has been met. A European mill recently secured a second-quarter loading high vol A cargo at a 4pc discount to the index price, but details could not be confirmed.
The lack of availability in high vol A is expected to lend support to miners with high vol B volumes to offer. "Buyers who can't get high vol A are naturally going to look to high vol B, and I expect prices will go up towards $140/t," said one US miner.
"I would say high vol B is in tight supply at the moment, I'm not seeing any offers," said a European mill. The same mill is seeking to secure a term contract for Australian high volatile coal at roughly a 20pc discount to premium low-indexes for delivery in March 2021-March 2022. "We also received an offer for a spot cargo of Australian high-vol coal at 86pc relative to premium low-vol indexes," said the mill.
Met coke offers into Europe have been increasing, while Chinese met coke plants accepted a 100 yuan/t drop in prices on higher stock levels. "A few weeks ago, there were no met coke offers, now there are several unsolicited offers but at very high levels," said a European mill. Offers for 60 CSR coke to be delivered in the second quarter has been offered by a Czech producer at $300/t ex-works.
But the coke market remains tight. "We are looking for coke in the domestic market, but it is hard to find. I estimate an ex-works price of $350/t for 60-62 CSR met coke in Kuzbass," said a Russian integrated steel mill. An Italian coke maker has secured seven lots of 10,000t of low vol coals from a US producer to be shipped between May and December this year. The strong demand for met coke has encouraged foundry coke makers to increase met coke production, said one miner.
A 30,000t cargo of Russian GZh coking coal sold to a Chinese buyer for around $150/t cfr China, loading from a far eastern port in late March or early April. "Lots of participants are evaluating the market after the lower fob Australia deal earlier this week, but we don't see any fundamental change since before the lunar new year holidays," said the supplier of the cargo.