Premium Hard Coking Coal Will Keep Going Up

Everyone has been pleasantly surprised by the recent run up in the metallurgical coal price. From around $82 per tonne – where commentators were saying it would remain for the next decade, it has shot up spectacularly to over $200 per tonne for premium hard coking coal. Now I’m sure that it will retreat somewhat from the latest run, but my view is that the long term is looking bright for premium metallurgical coal producers.

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Is Mining Evil?

Every time I turn on the TV these days there is an evil, greedy mining corporation killing, maiming and polluting in the ruthless pursuit of money. So allegedly, according to TV, mining companies are plundering away unchecked at everyone’s expense. The themes vary from the heartless interplanetary miners in Avatar, Alien and Moon, to the idolisation of crooks that rob gold mines such as in the Point Break remake. At least mining got the last say on Point Break, because the movie’s plot was very ordinary to say the least.

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Lazy Grazing

When a mine starts up, the approvals process demands that a plan is developed to rehabilitate the mine progressively and at closure. At approvals stage, there is little appetite to slow down the already lengthy and cumbersome process with complicated rehabilitation planning. This tends to see mine developers prefer to adopt a safe solution for post mining land use that conforms with the industry norms, rather than take risks to achieve a better outcome. That sees most companies nominate grazing as a post mining land use, since its easy to grow grass and cows eat it. Not much risk in that.

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