Coal comeback

FROM boom to bust and back again, the value of Australian coal exports will rise 41 per cent over the next six years, according to the latest HSBC forecast.

The value of iron ore exports is also expected to jump by 54 per cent and natural gas by 330 per cent as new capacity comes online.

According to a report published by HSBC’s chief Australia and New Zealand economist Paul Bloxham, the rise is overwhelmingly due to demand from China Japan and South Korea.

According to the Australian, Mr Bloxham believes commodity prices will remain high “relative to the low levels they reached in the 1980s and 1990s”.

But if China slows more than expected, the clearest impact on Australian resources will then be on prices rather than on volumes, he says — being the lowest-cost ore producer, and with 91 per cent of the new LNG capacity forward-sold on long-term contracts.

The coal story, in such a case, “is less promising”, he says, although volumes probably will continue to rise, since miners would lose more if they stopped production.

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