Steelmaker to increase coking coal imports

08:29, March 11, 2010      

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Maanshan Iron & Steel Co, the second-biggest Chinese steelmaker listed in Hong Kong, will increase coking coal imports this year, adding to rising global demand that's sent prices soaring.

The mill bought between 800,000 metric tons and 900,000 tons of the raw material from BHP Billiton Ltd, the biggest exporter, last year, Chairman Gu Jianguo said. "Imports from BHP will likely be sustained," he said.

Coking coal imports by China, the world's largest steelmaking nation, surged five-fold last year after the government closed smaller unsafe mines. BHP last week won a 55 percent price increase from Japan's JFE Holdings Inc as the global economy picks up and Chinese purchases bolstered demand.

"Our demand for imported coking coal will increase this year," said Gu. "The exact import level will depend on domestic and overseas prices. If prices are low, everyone will be buying from that market."

Prices for coal bought from BHP are negotiated privately and don't follow benchmark contracts set between Japanese mills and the mining company, he said.

China will demand more high quality hard-coking coal in the future as it expands mills, Melbourne-based BHP Billiton said in a September slide presentation. Imports by China jumped to 34.4 million tons in 2009, Wu Xinchun, a consultant to the China Iron & Steel Association said Feb 5.

Source: China Daily
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