Over the past two years, coking coal prices have been the most volatile among major bulk commodities. On the supply side, the most important factor determining the movement of coal prices were weather problems affecting the exports of coal from Australia (Queensland), where the production of the best quality coking coals is concentrated. On the demand side, an important factor is the growing role of China on the market, which, being the world’s largest producer and consumer of metallurgical coal, has also become its largest importer. The dominant, about 75% share of China in the global spot market has resulted in their level of activity influencing the periodic price decreases or increases in international trade and prices based on CFR China (along with Australian FOB prices) have become important indicators to monitor market trends and determine levels of negotiated benchmarks. The exceptional volatility on the market led to a change in the quarterly price fixing mechanism for hard-load hard coal contractors in mid–2017 to apply a formula that assumes the valuation of their quarterly volumes based on the average of the basket of spot price indices. This reflects the broader trend of the evolving market, with growing spot market activity. The article describes the current situation on the international coking coal market and presents short-term forecasts for hard coking hard coal prices (PHCC LV), which are a reference point for fixing prices of other types of metallurgical coal (hard standard, semi-soft, PCI).
Over the past decade, the growing demand for imported coal from consumers (mainly Asian) coincided with supply constraints on the part of major suppliers. The sequence of events is referred to as force majeure. There were many events in the exporting countries, mainly including the cyclone and floods in Australia (Queensland, the world’s largest hard coking coal mining region). Imbalance between supply and demand causes commodity prices to be subject to cyclical changes, but in recent years the frequency and dynamics of these changes in the international metallurgical market (hard coking coal, semi-soft coking coal, PCI coal) has been extremely high. China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coking coal, played a leading role in these events. Political action by the Chinese authorities regarding their domestic mining and metallurgical industries and the coke-chemical industry has made the country dethrone Japan since 2013 and has become a global leader in metallurgical coal imports. The rise of China’s importance in coal trading has become an important benchmark for monitoring market trends and benchmarking benchmarks. The market has become more bipolar and CFR China’s prices (in addition to Australia’s FOB prices). The paper describes the path of pricing mechanism changes in international trade contracts for metallurgical coal, against the background of market conditions that generate these changes.