Feb 11 (Reuters) - Global miner BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) BLT.L has notified Japanese steelmakers that it hopes to set prices for coking coal every quarter instead of once a year, starting in fiscal 2010, the Nikkei business daily reported. The company’s representatives are expected to visit Japan later this month to explain three variations of a new price-setting framework, which include quarterly price negotiations for half the coal being bought, the paper said.
Nippon Steel Corp (5401.T) and other Japanese steelmakers will then decide whether to accept these terms, it said.
Canada’s Teck Resources TCKb.TO has made a similar proposal. BHP supplies a little over 20 percent of coking coal that Japan uses, with Teck providing slightly more than 10 percent, the paper said.
Currently, steelmakers and resource companies hold talks once a year to set coking coal prices for April through March of the following year, the paper said.
Japan’s steelmakers oppose setting coking coal prices more frequently, with Nippon Steel President Shoji Muneoka calling the move “problematic because costs will fluctuate for our customers,” the Nikkei report said.
Japanese firms are paying about $129 per ton for coking coal this fiscal year, down roughly 60 percent from the previous year. But China’s import price for coking coal is in the $180-$189 range due to robust steel production, it said. (Reporting by Shailesh Kuber in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)