Price of coking coal surges amid supply disruptions

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The price of key steel-making ingredient coking coal has surged again as buyers across Asia scramble for supplies.

Premium hard coking coal jumped 34 per cent to $283.1 tonnes on Friday, according to an assessment from the Steel Index, a price reporting agency.

That takes gains since a tropical cyclone knocked out a key supply route in Australia to almost 90 per cent.

The surge in prices once again highlights the sensitivity of the 300m tonne a year seaborne coking coal market to supply disruptions.

Cyclone Debbie slammed into the north-eastern state of Queensland last week. The state produces around half of the world’s supply of coking coal and is a major supplier to China’s vast steel industry.

The last time Queensland’s coking coal mines were hit by a cyclone in 2011, prices leapt to a record of more than $330 a tonne.

Several big producers, including BHP Billiton, have already been forced to declare force majeure on shipments from the Bowen Basin, a key producing region, because of damage the Goonyella rail system.

This system connects coking coal mines in the basin with two large coal terminals on the east coast and is not expected to reopen for five weeks.

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