Metallurgical coal, the new thermal?
Metallurgical coal markets have seen their share of exciting market disruptions over the last decade. However, the increase in these black swan events since the start of the pandemic has been exhausting for market participants. The latest one that has market participants scratching their heads is the crossover of metallurgical coal into thermal markets, as benchmark Newcastle high-calorific value seaborne thermal coal is higher priced than benchmark metallurgical coal for the first time in history. This dynamic provided some support to metallurgical coal prices from July-October 2022, in a period of lower metallurgical coal demand. Non-typical crossover coal from the US was sold on the export market to European utilities to test the technicalities and bolster stocks for emergency power. Since then, crossover coal buying – particularly in Europe – cooled, causing support for metallurgical coal prices to return to traditional support mechanisms.