Indian cement makers have re-entered the coal market in force seeking South African cargoes for delivery between November and the end of Q1.
Grasim , Dalmia and Gujarat Ambuja said they are seeking South African coal through enquiry rather than offial tender.
Grasim was recently seeking October and November delivery panamaxes and is awaiting more offers.
Dalmia is looking for at least one Q1 South African cargo and Ambuja is looking for late Q4 cargoes.
Cement company sources said offers received recently have been above $111.00 a tonne CIF and more than $72.00 a tonne FOB Richards Bay.
A November South African cargo was sold into west coast India earlier this week at $120.00 a tonne CIF, traders said.
This could be destined for a cement maker, they added.
Demand from India’s cement sector for South African coal has remained extremely strong throughout this year. India is projected to import 9-10Mt from South Africa this year, up from 3.5Mt in 2006.
Spot buying by Indian importers shrank to almost nothing during July, August and September because the trader importers and their ultimate end-users were hoping prices would fall, traders and consumers said.
Coal stocks at Indian ports had been built up to maximum levels before the monsoon began in July but stocks have now fallen to only a few weeks supply.
"It is true that there is very little left at the ports," one large cement maker said. "We did wait, we all waited, but now we have to buy but the prices are too high."