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Coal Quality 

Metallurgical Coal or Hard Coking Coal

Hard coking coal is an input into the production of steel, rather than being used only as a fuel in itself. In this way, the demand for coking coal is tied to the demand for steel.  Adding to the value of this coal is the scarcity. There are few places in the world that have access to this resource, and Queensland is one of them.


Breaking it down:


  • Coke is a fuel with high carbon content and few impurities, made by heating coal in the absence of air.  

  • During the iron-making process, a blast furnace is fed with the iron ore, coke and small quantities of fluxes (minerals, such as limestone, which are used to collect impurities). The coke reacts with the iron ore to reduce the iron ore to iron and as well provides the heat to melt the iron ore and fluxes. 

  • The result is molten pig iron, which is then converted to steel. 


Coke in detail:


The coke made from the metallurgical coal plays three roles: 


  1. Energy for chemical reactions. 

  2. Reducing gases to convert the iron ore to metallic iron.

  3. A porous permeable bed to support the iron ore and allow the molten metal to flow to the bottom of the blast furnace.


Additionally, the coke should be of such chemical quality so as not to contaminate the hot metal with excessive sulphur, phosphorous and alkali contents. 


This is where an emphasis on the quality of coal comes to the forefront. Futura’s coking coals have specifications that meet these high standards of low phosphorus and sulphur as well as being able to complement other coals properties when blended prior to placing the coking coal into the coke oven.


The primary markets for Australia's metallurgical coal include India, Japan, South Korea, and several other Asian countries. Despite China's lifting of trade restrictions on Australian coal, exports to China remain relatively low compared to pre-ban levels.

Current Trends and Insights

Australia's metallurgical coal exports are expected to rise to 172 million tonnes in 2023-24, up from 157 million tonnes in 2022-23.

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