While booming export coal prices are benefiting SA’s largest coal miners, the smaller players are struggling to keep their heads above water as the domestic market stagnates. SA’s largest coal miners — those with export allocation at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal — are typically able to supply into the export market when prices are good. That is the case now. At $130 a tonne, export prices are the highest they have been in over 13 years. When global prices wane, the same coal miners are still supported by demand from the domestic market, which is dominated by Eskom.

On the other hand, emerging coal miners have few options beyond the local market, which is now feeling the effects of low Eskom demand. The utility is still enjoying healthy coal stockpiles at its power plants that it was able to build up when the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented in April 2020...

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