Coal soars as sup­plies cut

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COAL prices have risen to a record in Asia as flood­ing in Aus­tralia, power cuts in South Africa and snow storms in China re­stricted out­put, con­tribut­ing to elec­tric­ity short­ages in the world’s fastest­grow­ing ma­jor econ­omy.

Power-sta­tion coal prices at Aus­tralia’s New­cas­tle port, a bench­mark for Ja­pan, South Korea and Tai­wan, jumped 3.9 per cent to a record $93.35 a tonne last week, ac­cord­ing to the glob­alCOAL NEWC In­dex. The price soared 73 per cent in 2007.

An­glo Amer­i­can, South Africa’s sec­ond­biggest pro­ducer, stopped five of nine mines be­cause power sup­plies couldn’t be guar­an­teed by state util­ity Eskom Hold­ings Ltd.

In Aus­tralia, Macarthur Coal and Wes­farm­ers said they wouldn’t be able to meet con­tract sup­plies from some mines in Queens­land af­ter heavy rain. ‘‘ Even be­fore th­ese de­vel­op­ments, spot prices for coal and coke were at record high lev­els,’’ Mac­quarie Group an­a­lysts led by Jim Len­non said in a re­port. ‘‘ Cur­rent price ne­go­ti­a­tions for an­nual con­tracts could be set­tled at much higher lev­els than pre­vi­ously thought.’’

China, which burns coal to gen­er­ate 78 per cent of its elec­tric­ity, or­dered do­mes­tic coal ship­pers to halt ex­ports af­ter heavy snow and rail con­ges­tion shut sup­plies to 5 per cent of the coun­try’s coal-fired gen­er­a­tors. Power lines from the Three Gorges hy­dro-elec­tric dam in cen­tral Hubei prov­ince were also dam­aged in the storms, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said. Bloomberg

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