Global Met Coke Scenario
Metallurgical coke is an important part of the iron and steel making process because it provides the carbon and heat required to chemically reduce iron ore in blast furnaces to molten pig iron. The world coke consumption was 357 million tonnes in 2001, which has grown to around 685 million tonnes in 2013. However, the rate of increase in demand and production has considerable slowed in the in the last couple of years.
China has been the largest producer of met coke for over two decades and currently account for around 70% of global coke production. China used to export up to 15 million tonnes a year till 2008 which got reduced drastically to a meagre over ½ million tonnes in 2009 and just over 3 MT in 2010 with imposition of 40% export tax in early 2009. This export tax though has been removed by China in January 2013, however this has not led to any flood of Chinese coke in the world market.
Fig 1. Chinese coke exports (before implementation of 40% export tax and after abolition of the tax)
World coke industry is being dominated primarily by Asia and China in particular. Coke production Europe is down for around last 5-6 years due to lack of demand from steel arising out of the subdued economic activity in the Eurozone countries. As US coke plants are under environmental pressure, there have been shut down of a few old coke plants in Australia due to a host of reasons.
India is one of the major importers of met coke, followed by Germany, Japan and Brazil, while Columbia, Poland, and Ukraine are the prime exporters of met coke along with China.
Fig 2. Coke Exports by major exporting countries
Fig 3. Coke imports by major importing countries
Coke prices generally follow the trend of coking coal prices; however it did not touch the 2008 levels during the recent spike in coking coal prices in 2011. Analysts believe that the price of met coke would pick up in medium term and may settle at around US$330 – 350 per tonne in long term.
Fig 4. Blast Furnace Coke Prices