South African Feb coal exports slip 19.7% on year to 8-month low of 4.82 mil mt


South Africa’s thermal coal exports totalled 4.82 million mt in February, slipping 19.7% year on year, as shipments to India, Europe and Turkey dwindled, according to customs data.

The volume also fell 21.7% from January to an eight-month low.

Comparatively strong Richards Bay FOB spot prices have been hindering buying interest for South African thermal coal this year, with low dry bulk freight rates also allowing for competition from lower priced material from other origins into large market India, as well as Europe and Turkey.

India took 2.66 million mt of South African thermal coal during the month, falling 5% on the year and dropping 12% from January to the lowest monthly volume since September.

Shipments to the whole of Europe in February plunged 56% on the year to 200,620 mt, also 65% lower than the previous month and the lowest volume since records began in April 2014. European buying interest for thermal coal in general has been affected by low demand after another mild winter.

Included in the total volume shipped to Europe was 144,370 mt of thermal coal sent to Italy, down from 341,750 mt in January, and 56,250 mt to the Netherlands, almost a third of the previous month’s 150,000 mt and down 30% year on year.

Turkey, which had been the third largest buyer in January at 498,776 mt, took no South African thermal coal in February for the first month since June last year. This compared with 673,730 mt in the same month of 2015.

One destination that took more coal in February was Pakistan at 472,485 mt, more than eight times the 55,000 mt exported to the country a year ago and 68% higher on the month to a six-month high.

Morocco was one of the top takers of South African coal in February at 338,000 mt, while Israel took 176,400 mt, Sri Lanka had 165,000 mt and exports to the United Arab Emirates amounted to 150,000 mt.

Platts 7-45-day price assessment fluctuated around the $53-$54/mt FOB level in February, gaining 50 cents from the beginning of the month to $54.10/mt FOB on February 29.

Source: Platts

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