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Indian met coke imports hit multi-year low in September

Source: Argus, November 7, 2019

Indian imports of metallurgical coke fell to the lowest level in more than a year as the country's steel industry struggled, while mills that were still importing moved away from China for their supplies.

Indian met coke imports were 94,469t in September, down by 73pc on the year and a drop of 42pc from August, according to data from e-commerce company Mjunction.

Many of India's largest steel producers scaled back production to around 75-80pc of capacity in the second half of the year amid weak demand for finished steel products. Met coke is a key feedstock in blast furnace steel production along with iron ore.

Higher domestic coking coal prices in China have left met coke export prices too high to compete with other exporters as well as India's domestic merchant cokemakers. India took 33,487t of met coke from Japan in September as similar steel production cuts there created a surplus of met coke volumes.

Most of the rest came from Colombia in September with 58,702t, more than triple the amount the previous month. India imported just 2,193t of met coke from China in September.

Similar cuts to import volumes were made across the metallurgical coal complex. India imported 3.54mn of coking coal in September, down by 23pc on the month to the lowest level since January and a drop of 51pc from September 2018.

Australia remained the largest coking coal supplier to India with 2.26mn t, down by 41pc from August. But volumes from the US increased by 125pc on the month to 372,309t, while shipments from Canada rose by 117pc to 524,835t.

The Argus spot price assessment for premium low-volatile hard coking coal averaged $140.96/t fob Australia in September, down by 9.5pc from $155.83/t on the same basis in August.

Indian imports of pulverised coal injection (PCI) grades were at the lowest level for the year at 815,438t in September, down by 34pc on the month but an increase of 120pc from the same month last year as PCI utilisation at Indian mills has generally trended higher.

Australia remained the largest PCI exporter to India in September with 495,838t, down by 34pc from August, while shipments from Russia fell by 41pc on the month to 260,580t.

News Source: Argus Media