China sets price guide for benchmark thermal coal to cool rally

China’s Forbidden City from the Coal Hill. (Reference image by Pixelflake, Wikimedia Commons).

China has set a “reasonable” price range for the benchmark 5,500 kcal thermal coal at Qinghuangdao Port for medium- and long-term trading at 570-770 yuan ($86.98-$121.77) a tonne, the country’s state planner said on Thursday.

The move comes as Beijing strives to balance the profits of coal miners and power generators after widespread electricity outages and runaway coal prices last year.

“The price range is determined on the basis of full considerations of costs and profits in coal mining and power industries,” said Zhou Banxue, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) at a news conference.

As the logistics costs of delivering coal from mines to ports are relatively stable, the price guide at ports will also help limit prices at mines, the official said.

Still, the price range is well below current spot price levels for Qinhuangdao coal of around 970 yuan a tonne. The benchmark has surged 23% since the beginning of the year.

The NDRC will also closely monitor spot coal prices and will seriously investigate market speculation and illegal market practices such as fabricating information about prices.

“We will timely assess the price range based on coal production costs and the developments in energy industry,” said Peng Shaozong, an official from the NDRC at the same news conference.

($1 = 6.3234 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(By Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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