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South African Coal Rises to Highest in a Month on One-Off Deal

Coal export prices at South Africa’s Richards Bay terminal rose to the highest in almost a month as a single purchase pushed the average higher.

Prices at Richards Bay, the continent’s largest facility for shipping coal, rose 1.6 percent to $120.37 a metric ton in the week to June 10, according to data from Petersfield, England-based research IHS McCloskey. That’s the highest since the week ended May 13 and a 29 percent increase over the past 12 months.

“Prices did see a surprise spike on June 9, but this was more of a one-off deal” than sustained volume, Miswin Mahesh, an analyst at Barclays Capital in London, said by e-mail without naming the buyer. “We continue to see lackluster demand for South African coal as Asian buyers remain price sensitive and there is adequate supply for Europe from the U.S. and Colombia.”

Richards Bay coal exports may fall or stay at current levels as India enters monsoon season and European demand “shows little sign of life,” Mark Pervan, head of commodity research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said in a note today. Rains in India from June to September disrupt infrastructure and deliveries from ports.

China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, will meet its increased demand for the fuel by buying more Australian coal, Pervan said. The Asian country may have a 30- to 40-gigawatt power shortfall during peak summer demand, exacerbated by a drought in central part the country, he said. Lower reservoirs curb the amount of power that can be generated by water. A gigawatt can supply 1 million U.S. households on average.

China boosted coal imports 64 percent in the two months through April. The price of coal at the country’s Qinhuangdao port has jumped 29 percent in the past 12 months to $150.22 a ton, according to data from McCloskey.

Power-station coal prices at Australia’s Newcastle port, an Asian benchmark, were little changed in the week ended June 10. Coal prices at the New South Wales port were $119.35 a ton compared with $119.34 the previous week, according to the globalCOAL NEWC Index.

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