Coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, is used to create coke, one of the key irreplaceable inputs for the production of steel.
There are many varieties of coal in the world, ranging from brown coal or lignite to anthracite. The property that really sets coking coals apart from other coals is its caking ability, which is the specific property required in order to make coke suitable for steel making.
Coke is produced by heating coking coals in a coke oven in a reducing atmosphere. As the temperature of the coal increases, it becomes plastic, fusing together before resolidifying into coke particles. This is known as the caking process. The quality of the resultant coke is determined by the qualities of the coking coals used, as well as the coke plant operating conditions.
Coke quality is largely influenced by coal rank, composition, mineral content and the ability to soften when heated, become plastic, and resolidify into a coherent mass. Bituminous class coals of high, medium, and low volatile rank that possess these properties are called “coking” coals.
High quality coking coals are in great demand by steel producers, who need these coals to make high quality coke to maximise the productivity of their blast furnace operations.
The Chinese coking coal market is likely to be the largest consumer for Ovoot coking coal due to its size and proximity.
Premium coking coals such as Fat (Ovoot coal) and Primary coals, are in particular high demand within China primarily due to the low ratio of these coals in China’s own coal reserves but also due to the growing requirement for higher quality coking coals in the coke industry. These higher quality coking coals are increasing in demand faster than their lower quality counterparts as China trends towards the use of larger blast furnaces to achieve higher productivity, use of advanced technology and balancing environmental concerns. For example, the average size of a blast furnace in China is 1,000m3, compared to Japan/s 3,814m3 capacity. The larger the blast furnace, the better quality coke required which drives an ascension of the blending ratio of strongly-caking coal.