Posts Tagged ‘Coking coal’

China’s Hunan province bans coke industry expansions

This is one of a number of signs that China is becoming serious about the environment in general and the impact of pollutants from the iron and steel industry in particular. Clearly, the Beijing and provincial governments have a long way to go, but then so does the US industry and many others. Globally at present, the use of coke as a reductant/energy source means that the only real alternatives are DRI and EAFs. There is some use of charcoal – but many mills could significantly improve their efficiencies, as was discussed at SBB’s recent Green Steel Summit in Washington.

SBB 30 July 2010 Hunan province, China’s fourth largest coke-producing province, is banning any expansions in its coke industry over the next three years, Steel Business Briefing learns from a provincial government anouncement.

The Hunan Environmental Protection Department issued the notice on 22 July, saying there will not be any environment assessments done on any coke expansion projects for the next three years.

However, there are still some projects which are excluded from the ban, if they are included in the province’s coke industry development plan, but the provincial government tells SBB the plan is still under discussion.

These projects also need to have a minimum annual production of 100,000 tonnes and meet a series of environmental protection requirements such as installing a coke quenching water circulatory system and a process gas desulfurization system.

But small coke producers in Hunan have quite a cold response to this new policy, as they lack confidence in the market at the moment. “We have talked about cutting our production recently because of the currently poor sales. So this new policy won’t have any immediate influence,” an officer with a Hunan-based coke producer tells SBB.

Hunan province produced 21m tonnes coke in 2009, accounting for 6% of China’s total production. In January-June this year, Hunan produced 10m t of coke.

Climate change in Australia hits met coal production

How much of the flooding in Queensland is due to climate change? Quite a lot I would say. So we could almost say that the higher quarterly prices facing the Japanese and others and the higher global spot prices (up to $230-240/t) in coking coal prices are due in part to climate change. Of course, strong Chinese imports have also helped!

SBB 9 March The worst flooding in outback Queensland for 120 years could result in a coking coal production loss of up to 10m tonnes, industry sources estimate. Though the heavy rain has not so far fallen directly in the Bowen Basin – the state’s metallurgical coal producing region – rail lines used to transport coal to the port at Dalrymple Bay are under water.

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal spokeswoman Jacqui Strambi told Steel Business Briefing that the met coal industry estimated that output of 5-10m t had been lost due to the flooding. The Blackwater railway system, the state’s second largest transporter of coal after the Goonyella line, has been closed for more than a week. The Moura line is also closed, while other rail links are operating at reduced capacity. SBB understands that Anglo American halted operations at two of its Queensland mines.

A spokeswoman for major producer BHP Billiton-Mitsubishi Alliance said there had been no impact to date from the weather on production at the company’s operations in the Bowen Basin. But there had been reduced rail service since February because of earlier rain.

With the floodwaters in Queensland still to subside and more damage to infrastructure expected, tighter supply of coking coal could push spot prices closer to $240/t from around $230/t currently. In its latest commodities report, Macquarie said new export supply from US producers could come on stream in the third quarter of this year but prices are likely to be “extremely tight” in the April-June quarter.

Australia exported 135m tonnes of met coal last year and is forecast to ship 150m t in 2010.