Coronado sees coking coal enquiries tick up as China eases unofficial ban

Credit: Coronado Global Resources

Coronado Global Resources, which has not typically sold Australian coking coal to China, has received enquiries for long term supply as Beijing lifts its unofficial ban on coal imports from Australia, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Thawing diplomatic relations between Australia and its biggest trading partner led China to allow three power utilities and the country’s largest steelmaker to resume Australian coal purchases this month for the first time since 2020.

So far, trade has been subdued given the early stage of approvals, China’s Lunar New Year holidays and high prices in Australia that have made imports less attractive.

“We haven’t traditionally sold Australian coal into China but we have been getting enquiries,” Chief Executive Gerry Spindler, who will retire from his role in late May, told Reuters. Douglas Thompson, previously the company’s chief operating officer, will step into the top job.

The miner’s Australian coal is mostly accounted for, but there is some flexibility on long term supply, Spindler said.

“We have seen enquiries … (for) extra tonnage for a number of years,” he said. “We don’t know for sure if they are coming direct from customers or from traders.”

Coronado runs the Curragh mine complex in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, as well as three operations in Virginia and West Virginia in the United States.

Coronado was a beneficiary of China’s unofficial ban because it sold more coal to China from its Buchanan mine in the United States, a flow Spindler said he expects to continue even as Australia opens up.

Coronado produced 8.8 million tonnes of coal in the first half of 2022, up 10% with its US production returning to pre-covid levels. It reports its full-year results on Feb. 21.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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