Coal Shipment

It is difficult to predict future development in the iron ore trades, because a number of nations possess very large reserves but these have yet to be exploited. This is largely due to the cost and the inaccessibility of the deposits but, as the more easily tapped resources decline, the incentive will increase to develop new supplies. Much will then depend on the political will of the countries concerned as to whether they wish to take advantage of the high technology available internationally. Coal is not one simple substance but arises with many different chemical and physical properties which, in turn, make the different types and grades suitable for a wide variation of uses. The two most important consumers of coal from the chartering aspect are those intending to use it as a primary fuel and the electricity industry is naturally the biggest in this group. The other is the steel industry which converts the coal into coke for use in blast furnaces. Coal is found in varying quantities on all continents and in many countries. The areas which produce an exportable surplus, however, are led by the United States of America, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Russia and China. Exports from the United Kingdom (once a major exporter) have dwindled almost to extinction, and Polish exports are far less than a decade ago. However, new sources are being exploited, with Venezuela, Colombia and Indonesia seeming set to become major players in this market arena. The patterns of shipment are dictated by the consumption of the main industrial centres of the world, with Japan and the EEC nations predominant in this respect. However, the volume of imports does not necessarily bear any relation to the overall consumption of coal because, in Western Europe, for example, a large portion of requirements is obtained from indigenous sources. Japan is far less fortunate in this respect, needing to import much coal and iron ore to serve its industrial requirements.