RBA index driven higher by coal
Continuing signs that the coal price recovery not a flash in the pan.
Wednesday 04 January 2017
The mining sector is continuing to drive the national economy according to the latest report on export prices by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The RBA puts together an index of the prices we receive for all our commodities, which gives a good indication of the sort of income the country as a whole will get for its exports.
Given coal accounts for roughly a quarter of exports, an improving price has large implications for the entire economy.
Thanks to mining the RBA says the index of commodity prices rose strongly for the third month in a row.
“The increase was led by the prices of iron ore and coking coal,” they said.
“In Australian dollar terms, the index rose by 9.3 percent in December, and over the past year, the index has increased by 45.5 percent, led by higher coking coal and iron ore prices.”
The index figure confirms that the outlook for 2017 is one of the best in years with contracted coal prices settled late in 2016 making every operating mine (and some that aren’t) profitable on a cash basis.
A contract price of $US171 a tonne for semi-soft coking coal and $US180 a tonne for PCI coal was agreed between local miners and their Asian customers in December - representing an astonishing 200% improvement since the start of 2016.
For the highest quality coking coals, contract prices for the start of 2017 have settled at around $US285 - which when adjusted for the relatively weak Australian dollar - mean coal prices are better now than they were for much of the “mining construction boom”.However, despite the overall improvement for all coking and thermal coals, there is a growing gap between the prices of the best coking coals and those below them. In fact, the discount is now around 40% which is the widest for six years.