Steelmakers in Asia may be forced to pay as much as 33 percent more for hard coking coal after the worst floods in 50 years in Australia’s Queensland state disrupted output from the world’s biggest shipper of the fuel.
Prices may increase to between $270 and $300 a metric ton, analysts from Macquarie Group Ltd., Morgan Stanley and Daiwa Capital Markets said. Mills agreed to pay $225 a ton for the three months starting Jan. 1, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said last month.
“Queensland accounts for the majority of the premium hard coking coal supply on a global seaborne basis,” Alex Tonks, a commodity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Sydney, said by telephone. “A lot of operations have been impacted. It certainly looks pretty bad at this stage.”
Rain in the Australian state has inundated an area the size of France and Germany, prompting BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group to declare force majeure, a legal clause that allows mines to miss deliveries. About 37 percent of the world’s traded coking coal is affected, according to Macquarie. Queensland floods in 2008 left steel producers, including Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. and JFE Holdings Inc., with a threefold increase in annual contract prices to about $300 a ton.
Australian free-on-board prices may climb to $270 a ton for three-month contracts starting April 1 as the floods threaten to take as much as 10 million tons of metallurgical coal out of the market, said Colin Hamilton, a London-based Macquarie analyst.
$300 A TON
Morgan Stanley said coking coal prices may surge to $292.50, and Daiwa Capital analyst David Brennan said they may jump to $300.
Free on board is a term indicating that delivery at the seller’s expense is included in the invoice price.