COLUMN-In bizarre twist, coal may become a scarce commodity – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – October 27, 2017)

BARCELONA, Oct 27 (REUTERS) – The idea of coal as a scarce commodity seems somewhat preposterous given it remains one of the most abundant mineral resources on the planet, but the coming years may see a deficit in seaborne markets for the polluting fuel.

The current debate surrounding coal is generally one of how long it will continue to play a role in the world’s energy mix before it is replaced by cleaner alternatives, mainly renewables such as wind and solar.

While various analysts will disagree on how quickly this process will occur, the reality is that coal, particularly in Asia, will remain a bedrock of energy supply for at least the next decade.

With the exception of India, most major coal importers in Asia have increased purchases this year, with top buyer China boosting imports by 13.7 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2016.

This demand has boosted the Asian benchmark thermal coal price, the Newcastle index back to levels close to $100 a tonne, with the marker ending at $98.25 in the week ended Oct. 20, up 36 percent from the low so far this year of $72.42 in May.

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