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Another Strong Datapoint For Coal

I wrote last week about India's incredible thermal coal imports.

The roll keeps coming in this space.

Indian ship broker Interocean reported late last week that imports came in strong in November. The nation brought in 11 million tonnes of thermal coal during the month.

This is another month with much stronger imports than India had during the last fiscal year. Suggesting that coal demand is continuing to surge in the country.

The November numbers now put total thermal coal imports for the current fiscal 2014 year (April to November) at around 93 million tonnes. Already higher than the total for the entire 2013 fiscal year. Which ran around 89 million tonnes.

And we've still got four months left in the current year. Confirming that India's full-year imports are likely to end up in the range of 130 to 140 million tonnes.

Pointing to an approximate 50% increase in total imports, year-on-year.

As I've said before, the pace of import growth here is unbelievable. It's also something very few observers in the coal market are paying attention to.

The key now will be to see if supply from Indonesia can keep pace. That nation is the only supplier to India that's been able to pull off substantial growth in its output.

One interesting point on that front. Australia's Newcastle coal port registered a very rare event in November: an export shipment of coal to Indonesia.

Given vast Indonesian supply, it's unusual to see the country turning to imports. The shipment was small, at only 33,000 tonnes. But could be a very early indicator that Indonesia's supply is starting to falter a little--forcing local buyers to look outside the country for supply.

We'll see if future data bear this out. It certainly looks like the pressure is firmly on the supply side in the Pacific coal market, to keep up with India's ravenous demand.

Here's to the story in the numbers,

By. Dave Forest

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