David Hargreaves on Energy, week 14 2014



Whilst Brent crude oil was static around $106/bbl, and the May natural gas contract edged up and it was coal which took a beating. The RB Global Coal Index slid over 7% to 77.27, spot thermal shipments were reported around $75/t and contract prices for coking were noted as low down as $120/t. This is down quarter-on-quarter 16% on levels seen in the global crisis.

Pity poor old BHPB; maybe. As we note in the Leader and in Markets, it has come out with its four pillars if wisdom for chosen commodities of which coking coal is one, presumably at the expense of thermal.

Now it cannot seem to make up its mind between an index-priced mechanism and the spot market for its sales to the steel mills, particularly in Asia. The price collapse has been quite spectacular, from over $300 in 2009 to below $110 on spot cargoes. It is also reported that Glencore has struck a contract for thermal grade to a Japanese utility at $81.80/t.

Shares are yet to react negatively for the most part. We note:


About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.

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