| NAGOYA, Sept 6
NAGOYA, Sept 6 Asian thermal coal prices are
near their floor and any further steep price fall is unlikely,
the head of Chubu Energy Trading Singapore Pte Ltd (CET), a coal
trading unit of Japan's second-biggest coal buyer Chubu Electric
Power Co, said.
"At around the per-tonne $90 level, we are beginning to see
miners being forced to produce coal below cost," Kazunori Kasai,
managing director of CET, told Reuters on Thursday.
"The price could temporarily dip below $90, but a drastic
fall, say 20 or 30 percent, is unlikely to occur as global
production cuts and job cuts begin to take effect," Kasai said.
Australia's Newcastle spot index closed at
$90.93 for the week ended Aug. 31, down 20 percent since the
start of 2012, as China's demand has cooled.
CET, which is owned jointly with France's EDF,
moved its office in Singapore in April to boost its trading and
to cut Chubu's fuel costs by achieving closer communications
with its clients and shippers.
Its coal sales to utilities other than Chubu are gradually
increasing, Kasai said.
He expects to sell nearly 1 million tonnes of coal to
Japanese and South Korean utilities in the 2012 financial year,
about the same as in 2011, up from 500,000 tonnes in 2010.
The parent Chubu Electric, Japan's third largest power
utility, buys half the coal it needs, or 5 million tonnes a
year, from CET. The rest is secured on long-term contracts at
annually fixed price.
Chubu burns 10 million tonnes of coal a year to feed its
4,100 megawatt Hekinan plant, Japan's biggest coal-fired plant.
It has other other power stations using different types of
(Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Anthony Barker)