Chinese steel, coke prices rise after North Korea coal ban

20 February 2017

China's steel, coke and coking coal futures rose on Monday after Beijing suspended imports of North Korean coal as part of its efforts to implement United Nations sanctions against the country.

The most-active May futures for rebar, a steel product used in construction, rose 2.7 percent by 0155 GMT. Futures contracts for coke and coking coal, used in steel production, were up 2.3 percent and 2.4 percent respectively.

"Rebar jumped on anticipation that the ban on North Korean anthracite could lead to higher costs for steel mills that will struggle to find cheaper alternatives in the domestic market," said Zhang Min, a coal analyst based in Zibo, Shandong with Sublime Information Group.

China would stop all imports of coal from North Korea from Sunday, the country's commerce ministry said in a notice posted on its website on Saturday. The ban on the isolated country's biggest export will be in place until Dec. 31.

The move came a week after Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile, its first direct challenge to the international community since U.S. President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.

North Korea was China's fourth-biggest supplier of coal last year, with imports of anthracite, a high-quality coal used to make coke, a key ingredient in steelmaking, reaching 22.48 million tonnes, up 14.5 percent from 2015.