A coal quiz

Coal Export data, selected markets from RBA

The answer to the first question may surprise you. Click the image.

Coal export prices

The answer to the second is one of those ‘gotchas’ that characterize bulk commodity markets. Big producers with a variable local demand can play havoc (fairly or unfairly) with the world market price. That’s true in most agricultural commodities, too. Of course the impact on the ‘spot’ market price will not translate directly to the contract price for forward supply.

And the headache? It has nothing to do with ‘global warming’. Economic growth in our main export market for both coking and thermal coal has slumped from nothing to less-than-nothing. Meanwhile, the downturn in domestic demand in the world’s biggest producer of both kinds of coal will see market supply of coal rise and the prices plummet.

If you’re hoping for rapid development of ‘carbon sequestration’ of carbon emissions from coal, you’re bound to be disappointed.

The information about coal exports and the images come from an article by Dan Andrews in the January 2009 Reserve Bank Bulletin.

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