Coal lights up export price index: ABS

Coal

Port of Gladstone

Coal and non-ferrous metals were among those to underpin Australia’s export price index for the December quarter, while China’s fall in demand for metalliferous ores weighed heavily.

The export price index rose 3.5 per cent for the December quarter, contributing to a rise of 38.3 per cent in 2021, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This rise is expected to be a major contributor to the value of Australia’s resource and energy exports for the 2022 financial year, forecast to reach a record $379 million in December’s Resources and Energy Quarterly.

The export price index for coal, coke and briquettes rose by 51.9 per cent for the December quarter, as global demand for thermal and coking coals rose.

This brought the segment’s export price index for 2021 to 175.2 per cent in the green – the highest contributor of all, with gas just trailing behind at 161.5 per cent.

Increased manufacturing demand also saw non-ferrous metals rise 9.5 per cent in the export price index, as the effects of the pandemic eased and economic activity increased.

The December 2021 quarter was the fifth consecutive quarter of growth for the export price index – albeit the smallest of the five – despite metalliferous ores and metal scrap falling significantly by 29.4 per cent.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for metalliferous ores of late, however, as the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) saw a 6 per cent increase in total throughput for December 2021, compared to December 2020 – made up of 98 per cent iron ore.

And at time of writing, the iron ore price sat just below $US140 ($198) per dry metric tonne – a solid recovery from the lows of November 2021 in the mid-$80s per tonne.

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