June 11, 2019 - U.S. coking coal exports in April totalled 4.22mn t, a drop of 21pc year on year, driven down by slower shipments to Europe and the absence of exports to China, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.
Export volumes were also down by 15.2pc compared with March.
Exports to western Europe reached 855,761t in April, down by 41.1pc on the year, with no shipments being made to Germany and the UK in April and a decrease in volumes exported to France and Italy. But an increase in shipments to the Netherlands by 26.7pc on the year to 618,871t helped support overall volumes shipped to Europe.
Exports to Poland increased by 74.9pc on the year to reach 123,953t, as domestic production disruptions continue to support demand. But volumes have slowed compared with March, when the U.S. shipped 202,685t of coking coal to Poland.
The U.S. exported 82,500t to Turkey, down by 80.1pc, reflecting the increasingly challenging market conditions in the region. Cost pressures have also seen Turkish mills turn to cheaper alternative sources such as Russia and Columbia.
Exports to China had appeared to be recovering in the first quarter buoyed by supply problems in Australia, after exports slumped in the second half of 2018 when China imposed an additional 25pc tax on imports of U.S. coal. But there were no coking coal shipments to China in April, compared with 311,700t in the same month last year. Ahead of trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing in May, some U.S. coking coal exporters had shipped more stocks to China. But the talks broke down later that month, forcing sellers to absorb China's 3pc import duty and 25pc import tariff in order to sell the cargoes to Chinese buyers.
Exports to Ukraine totalled 643,355t, up by 32.5pc on the year. This figure is set to rise in the coming months, with Ukrainian steelmakers showing increased interest in U.S. material in light of Russia's tighter restrictions on exports of coking coal and metallurgical coke to Ukraine, after a permitting process came into effect on 1 June.
Shipments to Brazil remained largely steady in April, at 662,659t, compared with 680,299t in the same month last year. The most recent tender season for Brazilian mills has drawn to a close, with U.S. producers overall seeing improved demand this year. Requirements emerging from Brazilian mills have increased this year, with shipping periods extending to six months or even a year from the month-to-month buying seen last year.