>> An industry decimated by oversupply, could it finally be capturing fire again. China has huge appetite for coal, so it became the world's biggest importer in the boom that followed the 2008 recession. Producers around the world boosted supply but by 2012, the market was swamped, pushing prices to a ten year low in January.
Now, some in the industry are saying the worst could be over.>> I'm Reuters correspondent, Clyde Russell on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. For the past 22 years, Asia's coal producers, traders and buyers have been coming here to discuss the state of the industry. For the last four, it's been a pretty depressing affair, as they wondered how much further prices could fall, and then were even surprised by the extent that they did fall.
But this year, for the first time since 2012, things are different. People are talking that prices may actually rise.>> Much of the optimism is because the benchmark Asian coal price has risen almost 4% so far this year. That doesn't sound significant, but bear in mind, coal has fallen for five straight years and is still 61% lower than it was in early 2011.
The modest gain is happening because supply has finally fallen to meet demand. But Indonesia and the United States, the major losers among exporting countries, the demand is still a problem with top importers China and India cutting purchases as Beijing works to lower pollution and New Delhi encourages more domestic output.
There is hope that new buyers such as Malaysia and the Philippines will help boost demand, but while everybody in the coal industry is happy with the price rise this year, nobody expects a strong rally, rather, the best they hope for is that prices won't start falling again.