NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At a recent Coaltrans Asia conference in Bali, large coal players revealed that with Japan's economy showing signs of recovery, coal prices may rebound in the second half of the year as producers are geared to scale up operations to cope with the surging demand.
Meanwhile, Indonesian and Australian coal producers are ramping up operations to meet Asia's burgeoning coal demand for power, especially with several thermal power plants coming online in India. An industry expert said at the conference that Japan's thermal coal demand for 2011 has narrowed by only 10 million tons to 110 million tons, based on demand recovery from power plants that were not damaged.
Growing coal demand from China and India, powered by rising electricity demand, is fuelling the Asian coal rush. China is facing its worst power deficit in years and its dependence represents a major portion of the coal demand, while India's electricity demand is seen rising 56% by 2017.
Industry analysts foresee growing overseas demand for the two types of coal produced in Appalachia boosting U.S. mine operators' profits in the upcoming quarters, despite U.S. electric companies seeking to use more natural gas. India and Europe are forecast to import more of the dirtier-burning coal used by electric plants. In addition, rising prices of metallurgical coal used in the manufacture of steel will boost companies' profits as it is also used by developing nations to expand their infrastructure.