COLUMN-Resurgent coal exporters should be wary of blinkered optimism – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 21, 2018)

BRISBANE, June 22 (Reuters) – Coal miners supplying Asia’s rapidly growing economies have plenty to be optimistic about as prices and demand appear robust, but they should be wary of getting caught up in the positive feedback loop that nearly destroyed them before.

This week’s inaugural Energy Mines and Money conference in Brisbane, the heartland of the industry in top coal exporter Australia, was a sea of optimism about the outlook for the industry.

Prices have been on an upward trend since bottoming in 2016 after five years of losses, and miners are once again making good profits amid strong demand from top importers China and India, new consumers such as Pakistan and the reliable veteran buyers like Japan and South Korea.

But at the back of the minds of many Australian miners is the fear that they have seen this movie before, and they don’t want the same ending. In 2012, the industry was cock-a-hoop over forecasts that pointed to massive import demand growth in Asia, led by China and India.

Mining and coal conferences at the time were well attended and featured masses of presentations from both junior and established companies, all with the common theme of how much they were going to invest in new mines and how much new production was coming to meet the massive Asian demand.

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