A rally in seaborne coking coal markets spurred US coal mining companies to increase output headed into 2017. But expected supply expansions in Australia and tepid demand outlooks for next year could push prices down again


Warrior Met Coal, Ramaco and Rosebud Mining plan to start operations at new and idled mines next year, while other producers in Appalachia have extended working hours and marketed thermal coal as metallurgical products to capture higher prices.

Coal companies and company analysts estimate that producers will add 7mn-11mn t of supply to the US coking coal export market next year.

 The extra supply is challenging news for some coal companies, operating amid concerns that the new tonnage may only depress prices.

Prices for US material have more than doubled in the past four months and first-quarter supply settlements between suppliers and steelmakers in the Asia-Pacific solidified higher global pricing levels at the beginning of the year.

But increased output in Australia, coupled with weaker Chinese demand, is likely to weigh on pricing in 2017 regardless of US production dynamics, analysts said.

“It looks like there will be a lot of tons chasing a back-to-balanced market, or close to it,”

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