China’s spot price of the 5,500 kcal/kg Shanxi blended thermal coal stayed on the downtrend after the Chinese New Year holiday over February 11-17, hitting Yuan 615/tonne ($95.2/t) in Qinhuangdao port, North China’s Hebei province, as of February 22, or down Yuan 60/t from February 10, according to Mysteel’s price assessment, as domestic coal mining operations and logistics had been rather steady over the break.
The very price slumped over Yuan 430/t from the record high of Yuan 1,045/t on January 18, according to Mysteel’s data, as the Chinese power houses had been past the stage of hurriedly replenishing thermal coal or enough power supply to the citizens and domestic industrial plants when the cold wave suddenly swept many parts of the country.
“The deliveries of coal under the long-term deals have been abundant recently, also making it less need for the power houses to look for thermal coal in the spot market,” a Beijing-based power plant official commented.
Many of China’s coal mines usually suspend operations during the CNY holiday, but for 2021, Beijing’s strong encouragement on “celebrate local”, or calling for the migrant workers to celebrate the festival wherever they work and reside instead of travelling back to their hometowns, and its urge for the domestic coal mining companies to supply steadily had prompted many coal mines to take shorter breaks for the CNY than the previous years, as reported.
For example, Guizhou, the country’s largest coal mining province in South China, produced around 654,000 tonnes of coal during February 11-17, or the highest around the CNY period for the past five years, and thermal coal stocks at its local power plants also increased by nearly 2 million tonnes on year to 5.3 million tonnes, according to a Xinhua report.
Total thermal coal stocks at Qinhuangdao port also touched a six-month high of 5.4 million tonnes as of February 19, or 7% higher than that by February 10, or the last working day before the CNY, according to Mysteel’s data.
Thermal coal throughput from Qinhuangdao also increased by 41% on year to 3.2 million tonnes over February 11-17, and all the coal ports in Hebei including Qinhuangdao posted a rise of 4.5% on year in their haulage to 10.1 million tonnes during CNY holiday, the data from the Hebei Department of Transport on February 18 showed. Hebei is China’s top province to tranship coal from North to South China.
In the near term, with the warmer weather and therefore less coal consumption for central heating and higher coal output, the thermal coal price may slide all the way until below the Yuan 600/t, or back to a normal range, according to an industrial source in Hebei.
A Shanghai-based industrial watcher agreed on the anticipation, as “end-users’ buying interest has ebbed now that days are getting warmer, and power consumption by the citizens has come down,” he pointed out, though acknowledging that many may still hold onto a wait-and-see stance, uncertain about the trend yet.
Source: Sean Xie & Hongmei Li, MySteel Global
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