Asia powers demand for thermal coal – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – January 8, 2018)

Price of fossil fuel used for electricity reaches highest level since late 2016

Thermal coal, the least loved major commodity, has jumped to its highest level since late 2016 as strong manufacturing activity in Asia and appetite from China drives demand.

Thermal coal is burnt to generate electricity, and is a big source of income for miners such as Glencore, Whitehaven and Yancoal, which produce material for the seaborne market.

While the fossil fuel is being phased out in Europe on environmental grounds, it still accounts for about 40 per cent of energy consumption in emerging markets.

Its fortunes are therefore closely tied to manufacturing activity and the global economy, which most forecasters believe is enjoying the strongest period of expansion since the financial crisis.

Indeed, coal-fired power generation rose in most of Asia’s major economies last year, boosting demand, according to BMO Capital Markets.

“Thermal coal — once again it is powering Asian growth and urbanisation,” said Glencore’s chief executive Ivan Glasenberg. “It’s another commodity where there’s been under-investment over the years.”

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