Asian coal markets hit by port disruptions and cyclone

Asia’s coal markets have tightened in March as Cyclone Debbie hit Australian mines and ports and the Indonesian government continued to investigate East Kalimantan provincial ports.

The government probes into the province’s ports, regarded as some of the world’s most important thermal coal export hubs, have left ships sitting idle – some for as long as a month.

One unnamed ship worker said: “The situation there is bad. Ships rely on just a couple of seaborne loading vessels to do the job of the entire port.”

Cyclone Debbie hit northeast Australia, forcing a number of the regions mines to close and delaying the passage of northbound coal carrier ships.

Due to a cut in domestic output, these delays come at a time of peak Chinese demand for imported coal, driving up prices.

With coal shipments halted in Indonesia and Australia, Asian importers in South Korea, China and Japan have begun buying from the US and Colombia to make up for the shortfall.