Indonesian coal exports are expected to fall below 300 million tons in 2016 as domestic miners are cutting coal production volumes due to low coal prices. Indonesia’s October benchmark thermal coal reference price (set by the government) fell 1.4 percent (m/m) to USD $57.39 per metric ton (FOB) and now stands at an all-time record low since the start of this reference price in January 2009. Meanwhile, global benchmark coal prices are nearly touching nine-year lows.
4 December 2019 (closed)
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The government of Indonesia decided to postpone its plan to raise royalties for the country’s coal miners. Bambang Gatot, senior official at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said the government will not raise coal royalties yet given the sector’s current troubled climate (referring to low global coal prices). Indonesian coal miners will be happy to hear this news as they, especially the smaller-sized coal miners, are having difficulty to survive in the post-2000s commodities boom era.
Conditions remain tough for Indonesian coal miners in the post-2000s commodity boom. Plagued by low global coal prices since 2008, Indonesian coal miners first raised production rates in order to maintain healthy balance sheets (hence exacerbating the supply glut and putting more downward pressure on coal prices). As this backfired, they then put in place more cost-efficient policies (such as curbing the stripping ratio) in an effort to safeguard profits. However, as prices continued to slide miners are now forced to limit production to survive.
Pandu Sjahrir, Chairman of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association (APBI), said that Indonesia’s coal production could decline by 24 percent (y/y) in 2015 as the country’s coal miners have been cutting production volumes amid the world’s low coal prices. Reportedly, the free cash flow of various Indonesian coal miners have turned negative, meaning that generated cash from coal production cannot cover companies’ operational costs. In fact, the country’s coal miners are now eager to diversify to other businesses in order to stay alive.
Coal production in Indonesia fell 21 percent (y/y) to 97 million tons in the first quarter of 2015 as the country’s coal miners cut production volumes amid low coal prices. Some smaller Indonesian miners may even have stopped production altogether as production costs exceed coal prices. According to data from Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, 79 million tons of coal were exported in the first quarter, while the remaining 18 million tons were absorbed by the domestic market.
The coal mining industry continued its downward trend in 2014 amid weak global coal demand and an oversupply on the market. The benchmark Newcastle port thermal coal price fell 29 percent (y/y) over 2014 and declined a further 8 percent in the first quarter of 2015. As a result, Indonesian coal miners reported mostly weak 2014 corporate earnings. However, Indonesian miners are concerned that two new regulations will cause more problems. The Indonesian government plans to raise coal royalties and introduce mandatory letters of credit.
R. Sukhyar, Director General for Coal and Mineral Resources at the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, stated that the country is plagued by structural illegal coal shipments from coal-rich regions in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Sukhyar estimates that each year between 30 and 40 million tons of coal is exported illegally from Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Based on current coal prices, this would imply that USD $1.2 billion worth of coal is shipped illegally per year causing the government to miss out on royalties.
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On Monday (11/05), it was announced that the reference coal price of Indonesia declined 5.2 percent (month-on-month) to an all-time low of USD $61.08 per metric ton in May. This benchmark price, which is set by the government each month based on the average of four coal indexes (Indonesia Coal Index, Platts Index, New Castle Export Index and New Castle Global Coal Index), continued to plummet due to the coal oversupply in combination with weak global coal demand (particularly falling demand from China).
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