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Contura Energy Interview

Ahead of the hugely anticipated Eurocoke Summit, we spoke to Jason Fannin, Senior Vice President at Contura Energy, to get his insights into global and local views of the coal, coke and steel industry, demand and price trends, climate change challenges and more.

Q. You will be part of the Global & Local Views of the Coal, Coke, and Steel Industries Session on Day 1 – could you please give us a quick sneak peak of what you will be sharing?

As the largest steel consumer in the world, China and its environmental policies will certainly have an impact on the metallurgical coal trade and be one of many factors driving the market going forward. Whether one is involved directly in the Chinese market or not, its impact on global trade will be felt by all participants. My presentation will consider the possible effects of such policies on Chinese coke production as well as coal/coke imports, exports, and pricing and then apply them to the greater global metallurgical trade.

Q. How do you see the global outlook for coal demand and price trends - Europe vs USA?

The US coking coal supply balance will remain tight on the domestic side as integrated mills continue to take advantage of the stronger pricing environment this Administration’s tariff and trade policies have created for their products by utilizing latent capacity as much as possible. Pro-business policies being pursued by Brazil’s new government should help maintain and possibly grow its recent strong performance. In the EU, US tariffs on Turkish steel and the uncertainty around US/Chinese trade talks have weakened the steel market. At the same time, we are seeing lukewarm sentiment in the EU automotive sector. Nonetheless, EU demand for prime US coals has remained firm. One certainty is that metallurgical coal pricing will remain volatile and respond to the same drivers in 2019 as in recent years, namely supply constraints, weather events, and now tariff & trade dispute concerns.

Q. What do you see as the most significant shifts in coal, coke and steel in the short-and midterms?

We’ll be watching Chinese steel demand and growth profile, how the logistics chain in Australia performs, continued integrated growth in SE Asia, and tariff-driven impacts to trade flows.

Q. What are the main challenges for the global metallurgical industry to tackle climate change?

From a coking coal supplier’s perspective, we must remain responsive to our customers’ changing needs and continue to supply the most applicable feedstocks to assist them in achieving incremental CO2 emissions reductions until alternative carbon-based steel-making methods can be developed.

Q. Why do you feel it’s important for people to attend Eurocoke Summit 2019?

The Eurocoke Summit is one of the few conferences which brings together technical experts as well as market authorities and combines them to create a very worthwhile venue for anyone involved in the coking coal space. Fundamental coal and coke research is still being done in the EU, particularly in the areas of reduced emissions and less carbon intensive steel-making, and this conference is a great gathering for marketing professionals to deepen their understanding of some of the key technical issues facing the industry today.