COLUMN-Coal may be dying, but growth in the seaborne market says not yet – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – August 15, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Aug 15 (Reuters) – The prevailing market view on coal is that the industry is now facing terminal decline, as renewables and natural gas displace the polluting fuel. The problem is the facts don’t quite fit the narrative.

The coal industry can be split into two broad sectors, namely coal mined and burnt domestically, and the seaborne market, where coal is mined and exported to countries that need to import energy.

Of these two, the seaborne market grabs the most attention, as it’s more visible to investors, traders and even environmentalists opposed to coal mining.

Recent media headlines on the seaborne market are largely bearish, with one of the latest being an interview of Guillermo Fonseca, the chief executive of Colombian coal exporter Cerrejon, who told Bloomberg News that the market for the fuel “is disappearing.”

Add to this pessimistic assessment the sale by mining major Rio Tinto of its thermal coal assets, plans by rival BHP Group to do the same and a commitment by another big miner, Glencore, to cap production and the picture emerges of an industry on the brink.

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