Through the first two months of the 2013/2014 financial year, Indian coal imports totaled 31 million tonnes, a 40% increase from a year ago. With a limited track record of increasing domestic production, India is expected to see full-year imports of 155 million tonnes to meet growing demand. Over 85 percent of India’s new power generating capacity will be coal fueled, and these plants are primarily being built in the coastal areas to access seaborne coal markets.
During the first half of 2013, coal burn for power generation in the U.S. has increased over 10 percent, and stockpiles have been reduced to their 5-year average. Stockpile depletion will continue in the second half and should reach a normalized level of around 150 million tons by year end. This should set the stage for coal delivery increases of 50 to 70 million tons in 2014. Even after adjusting for lower expected exports, this should result in coal production increases in 2014.
Global steel production has increased by 2.6 percent in the first half of 2013, with almost all of that increase from China. There is around 300 million tons of excess steelmaking capacity globally, with most of that in China and Europe. This has limited steel pricing, but volumes have continued to support demand for iron ore and metallurgical coal. Iron ore prices have held up better because of highly concentrated high-grade supply. In fact, current pricing continues to support investment in capacity expansion, but only in high-grade, low cost regions. Met coal production is more fragmented with less price support, but pricing has finally started to stabilize after declining for most of this year. Stockpiles of both iron ore and met coal are at low levels, setting the stage for restocking and price support in the second half of the calendar year.