Australia exported record high volumes of thermal coal to India in April, as changing trade flows reflect Beijing's ban on imports of Australian coal.
Australia's thermal coal exports of 15.24mn t in April increased by 14pc from the eight-year low in March but declined by 7pc from April 2020, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) supplied through GTT.
There were no shipments to China for the fourth consecutive month, with initial shipping data suggesting this continues into early June. Shipments to Vietnam have also declined this year, and together these two factors have lowered January-April total shipments by 10pc on the year.
This decline has been partially offset by increased shipments to India, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan in January-April. The higher shipments to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are related to lower than average coal buying in the first half of 2020 following Covid-19 shutdowns that slowed industrial activity.
India, which is in the midst of a Covid-19 surge, has more than compensated for lower imports in the first half of 2020 and Australian exports to the nation hit a record high of 2.46mn t in April. This may reflect a larger than average discount for low grade 5,500 kcal/kg NAR Australian coal export prices compared to similar grade South African export prices in April. This premium widened in early to mid-May but has since shrunk.
Australian exports continued to move to smaller markets for its coal such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Netherlands, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Pakistan, as suppliers continue to look to diversify in response to Beijing's import ban.
The Argus Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kg price averaged $91.32/t fob Newcastle in April, up from $88.88/t in March and from $60.31/t in April 2020. It was assessed at $115.47/t on 28 May and averaged $97.26/t in May.
The Argus Newcastle 5,500 kcal/kg price averaged $57.21/t fob Newcastle in April, up from $55.73/t in March and from $49.09/t in April 2020. It was assessed at $65.40/t on 28 May and averaged $56.45/t in May.
The price differential, not adjusted for heat, between the Argus Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kg and 5,500 kcal/kg prices averaged $34.11/t fob Newcastle in April, up from $33.15/t in March and from $11.22/t in April 2020
Australia's average thermal coal export price was $73.07/t in April, up from $71.43/t in March and from $62.45/t in April 2020, according to the ABS.
The April prices were based on the US-Australian dollar exchange rate of $0.7703 used by the ABS for the month. This was in line with March, but up from $0.6298 in April 2020.