Prices have more than doubled from 2016 lows, boosting profits of big producers
Thermal coal, tagged the least-loved major commodity by analysts, is defying sceptics, with prices rising to the highest level since 2012 thanks to strong Asian demand.
High-grade Australian thermal coal, the benchmark for the vast Asia market, was quoted at $112.60 a tonne on Monday by Argus Media.
The fuel, which is burnt in power stations to generate electricity, has now jumped 130 per cent from its 2016 lows, boosting the profits of big producers such as Glencore and Peabody. The price of South African thermal coal has also hit a six-year high as consumers in Asia scramble for supplies.
While thermal coal is being phased out in Europe on environmental grounds, it still accounts for about 40 per cent of energy consumption in emerging markets, especially Asia.
Demand from India, Japan and South Korea has been robust in the first five months of the year, while an early summer heatwave has lifted imports into China despite Beijing’s efforts to keep a lid on domestic coal prices.