In its latest industry trend analysis, Fitch Solutions sets the coking coal price forecast for 2019 at $195/tonne. The analysts predict prices will remain elevated, with strong demand from China’s steel sector as US-China relations deteriorate and the probability of further economic support from the government to the slowing Chinese economy rises.
On the supply side, Fitch expects production misses from Australia to keep the market tight in the coming quarters as large diversified miners lose their appetite for mining coal.
Although Fitch analysts are more positive on coking coal prices in the coming quarters than they were one year ago, they maintain the view that prices will ease in the long-term as the Chinese steel sector resumes its slowdown and the demand for Australian coking coal softens.
With the re-escalation of the trade war between China and the US, the Chinese government will most likely be prone to providing further economic support to domestic industries, especially the infrastructure sector, which would buoy steel production and ultimately coking coal demand, Fitch predicts.
Indicators show that, while the largest importer of Australian coking coal, India, saw a 11.7% y-o-y decline in coking coal imports from Australia in Q119, China, the second largest importer of Australian coking coal, increased imports by 35% y-o-y in the same period.
Beyond 2020, Fitch expects Australian coking coal prices to continue on a multi-year downtrend, driven largely by a resumption in the slowdown of the Chinese steel sector and environmental concerns limiting coal imports.
Fitch forecasts that China will maintain its dominance in the producers’ market for coking coal, with absolute coking coal production increasing from 536mnt in 2019 to 551mnt by 2028, with production in 2028 being triple that of the second-largest producer, Australia (184mnt).
In 2026, analysts predict that Russia will surpass Indonesia as the third largest coking coal producer in the world, and that over the years, China, Australia and Indonesia will slowly lose the global market share of coking coal production to Russia, India and Mongolia.
Read the full report here.