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Steel News May 10, 2024 02:00:14 PM

BHP-Anglo American Deal Raises Alarm in Japan's Steel Industry

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
BHP declined to comment for this story but has said expanding in high quality coking coal was a main driver of its tilt for Anglo.

BHP-Anglo American Deal Raises Alarm in Japan's Steel Industry

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster):  Japanese steelmakers have raised concerns with Australian authorities that BHP Group could become too dominant in the global supply of coking coal if it goes ahead with a takeover of Anglo American.

Australia is the world's biggest exporter of coking coal and top supplier to Japan, making up around 60% of its imports, with most of the steel-making ingredient coming from the state of Queensland, where BHP and Anglo American are the two largest producers.

Steelmakers' concerns about BHP's coking coal market power could derail a deal if the Australian giant comes back with a revised bid for Anglo American, after being rebuffed with a $39 billion offer last month.

"BHP already has a large share of the supply of high-quality hard coking coal in the seaborne trade, and we will take measures to ensure that further oligopolisation will not impede sound price formation and stable supply," a JFE Steel spokesperson said, declining to elaborate on what measures they could take.

Representatives of Japanese steelmakers met with Queensland government officials raising alarm bells that if a deal went ahead it would concentrate the world's top quality coking coal mines in the state's Bowen Basin in the hands of BHP, two people familiar with the talks said.

The combined group would control 44 million tons, or about 13%, of the seaborne coking coal market, data from consultants Wood Mackenzie shows. That comes even as BHP's production has fallen after sales of some mines in recent years.

"In general, we are against the (BHP-Anglo) union as it would create a supplier with a huge market share, especially in the hard-coking coal market," said a source at a Japanese steel maker, adding that it was closely monitoring the situation.

"We, for our part, would not want BHP to buy Anglo and gain a stronger price competition power."

Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick said BHP would need to ensure its coal remains competitive or risk losing state government support. "We work closely with our Japanese customers and are aware of their concerns," Dick told Reuters.

"BHP needs to explain to Japanese steelmakers and the market more broadly how it will ensure the ongoing supply of steelmaking coal remains competitive," he said.

BHP declined to comment for this story but has said expanding in high quality coking coal was a main driver of its tilt for Anglo.

Anglo American declined to comment.

Courtesy: www.reuters.com

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