All these Australian mines are reopening thanks to the rally in coal prices
An ongoing rally in the price of Australia’s key exports, mainly coal and iron ore, is prompting miners to restart projects and resume operations at mines that were shut only a few months ago, when both commodities were trading close to 10 years-lows.
At least seven coal mines are expected to resume operations before the end of the year — four in Queensland and three in New South Wales.
Last week, prices for coking coal price — the steelmaking kind — reached $230 a tonne, up from $75 a tonne just a few months ago. And thermal coal, used in power generation, has doubled to more than $100 a tonne last week, up 27% just since the start of October.
Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN), for one, has reopened its Collinsville mine in Australia's Queensland state because of higher demand for the product in Southeast Asia and favourable prices
The move by the world’s biggest supplier of thermal coal is expected to create about 200 jobs in the region.
At least seven other coal mines are expected to resume operations before the end of the year — four in Queensland and three in New South Wales. These include Collinsville and Isaac Plains, which Vale and Sumitomo sold last year to Stanmore Coal (ASX:SMR) for only $1.
But the potential multibillion-dollar windfall could be short-lived, economists have warned.
NAB’s chief economist, Alan Ostler, believes that global production peaked in 2014, which together with action on setting a carbon price after the Paris climate accord will continue to suppress demand, inevitably affecting prices.
Liberum analyst Ben Davis agrees. He said in a report last week that thermal coal may start a downward trend soon as Chinese policymakers decided to temporarily reverse limits on thermal-coal production until December.
“We expect the hedging loss to shrink as thermal-coal prices drop faster than what is currently being implied by the forward curve,” he wrote.
There also are still plenty of major companies including Peabody Energy, Anglo American and Rio Tinto that are trying to sell its coal assets. Meanwhile, BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, warned last week that coking coal supply could grow “more quickly than demand” in the near term.