Singapore - Power blackouts in South Africa and soaring Indian imports in anticipation of an El Nino climatic event have pushed thermal coal prices in the Indian and Pacific Ocean basin up since the beginning of May, raising their premium over European cargoes.
Prompt cargoes from South Africa's Richards Bay terminal have jumped 9 percent to $67 a ton since the beginning of the month as rolling power blackouts in the country threaten mining output and port loading.
Prompt cargoes from Australia's Newcastle terminal last settled at $64.95 a ton, up from $62.30 at the beginning of May.
Prices were also driven up by rising demand in India, where utilities are stocking up on coal in preparation for an El Nino weather event that could affect rain levels during the monsoon season.
Last year, India's hydro levels were very low because of insufficient rainfall during monsoon, triggering a coal shortage as utilities scrambled to replace hydro-power with other fuels for electricity generation.