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More SA coal heads east

Coal exports at
Richards Bay Coal
Mumbai, India — MININGREVIEW.COM — 11 March 2010 – India and China imported a combined total of 2.4 million tonnes of South African coal in February “’ some 50% and a record proportion of the country’s 4.9 million tonnes of coal exports for the month.

Revealing this at an industry event here, traders said India had imported 1.4 million tonnes from South Africa in February, almost double the 720 000 tonnes imported in January. China’s imports had also doubled to just over 1 million tonnes from around 500 000 tonnes in January.

Demand for South African coal from India and China had slipped in January while end-users adjusted to the rise in prices which took place in late December, but it had now picked up considerably, producers and traders said.

Producers, brokers and traders predicted that South African sellers would focus sales efforts increasingly on the Asian market during the next several years because demand was much stronger than in Europe.
“Given South Africa’s geographic position and ability to supply the Atlantic and Pacific markets, producers shipping from Richards Bay can choose “’ they can either turn left or right,” said Paul Graham-Clarke of London Commodity Brokers.

Indian end-users added that they would buy still more from South Africa if prices dropped below US$80.00 a tonne FOB Richards Bay from current spot levels of around US$84.00-$85.00.

“The South African coal quality is reliable and we prefer it, but it is still too expensive for some end-users,” one Indian trader claimed.