Supply setbacks weighed on US and Canadian coking coal exports in November, while historically high prices throughout October and early November gave mining firms an incentive to ship cargoes where possible.
November coking coal exports from the US fell by 6.62pc from a year earlier to 3.24mn t, most likely as a result of the large volumes loaded in October. US exports rose by almost 1mn t or 31.9pc from a year earlier in October to 3.97mn t, up by 17pc on the month. Exports in the second half of the year have tended to be higher than the first half as mining firms have raised output where possible in response to strong demand from Chinese buyers. Still, output growth has been constrained by the ongoing strike at Warrior Met Coal, as well as a general labour shortage and poor rail performance.
November shipments from the US to China more than trebled from a year earlier to 1.12mn t, a monthly increase of 8.59pc. But December and January shipments can be expected to plummet, as Chinese port authorities started to clear pre-ban Australian coal cargoes on 28 October. Argus' daily fob Hampton Roads assessment averaged a record high of $495.06/t in October, compared with $112.75/t a year earlier.
Total US exports for January-November rose by 9.2pc to 37.54mn t, while shipments to China within the same period rose more than tenfold to 10.04mn t. Shipments to major Asian importers outside China fell significantly, as did shipments to major Atlantic destinations outside Europe. Shipments to India fell by 23.7pc to 2.78mn t, while shipments to Japan fell by 4.3pc to 2.78mn t and shipments to South Korea fell by 60.5pc to 825,088t, as buyers in these countries turned to Australian material that could not be sold in China.
The same factors affected US exports to Brazil, where exports fell by 21pc to 4.54mn t, and Turkey, with shipments falling by 70.2pc to 666,430t.
But shipments to the EU inched up by 1.54pc to 9.53mn t over the same period, while US exports to Canada rose by 4.06pc to 2.89mn t.
Canada's January-November exports inched up by 1.37pc to 24.79mn t, while exports to China almost doubled to 8.56mn t. November shipments from Canada fell by 16.2pc on an annual basis and 30.1pc on a monthly basis to 1.9mn t, as flooding and mudslides affected major producer Teck's shipments from the middle of the month onwards. Canada's November shipments were heavily focused on Asia, particularly China, with shipments rising by 156pc from a year earlier to 710,230t. Exports to Japan rose by 43.7pc to 476,776t. Canada shipped no coking coal to Europe or South America in November.