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Newcastle PWCS coal exports to China slump in Aug after 18-month high in July


Coal exports to China from the Port Waratah Coal Services terminals at the port of Newcastle, on the east coast of Australia, plunged in August after hitting an 18-month high in July, the Newcastle coal terminals operator said in a report Thursday.

A total of 549,000 mt was shipped to China in August from the 140 million/year capacity terminals, down from 1.80 million mt in July — which was the most shipped since January 2015, when 2.16 million mt was sent.

The volume is almost half the year-to-date monthly average of 1.07 million mt, data from Port Waratah Coal Services showed.

Newcastle’s two other key export destinations for coal, Japan and South Korea, also saw falls in exports in August.

There was 3.97 million mt shipped to Japan, according to the data, down from 4.23 million mt in July, and the lowest monthly volume since April 2015. South Korea received 800,000 mt compared to 1.30 million mt in July, which was also the lowest monthly volume since April 2015.

After two months of no shipments, India was sent 80,000 mt, which is in line with the year-to-date monthly average, PWCS data showed. Exports to Taiwan rose from 839,000 mt in July to 1.39 million mt in August, it said.

In August, 86% of the coal shipped was thermal coal, with metallurgical coal making up the remaining 14%, which is fairly well in line with the year- to-date average of 87% thermal coal and 13% metallurgical coal, PWCS said.

For the year to date, PWCS has shipped 71.30 million mt — which is an annualized rate of 109.9 million mt, up from a rate of 107.4 million mt for the same period last year, the operator said.

Newcastle port has another coal terminal under the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group banner that does not publish regular information on its shipping data.

The NCIG terminal has a capacity of 66 million mt/year and is operated by five coal producers including BHP Billiton, Peabody Energy and Whitehaven Coal.

A total of 8.59 million mt was shipped from the PWCS terminals in August, PWCS said.

The logistics coordinator for the Hunter Valley coal chain said there were 29 ships queuing at the end of the month, up from 20 vessels at the beginning of the month.

The ship queue is well above the 13-vessel average for the year to date. The queue of 29 is a 15-month high, which has come following a surge in demand for coal, and a PWCS spokesman said in August that 2016 could result in a record amount of coal exported from the port.

Port stocks finished the month at 1.31 million mt, down from 1.85 million mt the previous mouth, the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator said. The Carrington terminal had 132,000 mt and Kooragang terminal had 1.81 million mt, HVCCC said.

“September’s nominations are currently 5.8 [million mt] and based on terminal demand, the queue at Port Waratah is estimated to be 15 at the end of the month,” it said.

Source: Platts 

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