Asian thermal coal prices hit a new record during early September, driven by growing demand in Europe after the region banned Russian imports, according to the Financial Times. The tight coal market threatens to compound the energy crisis gripping Europe, which is preparing to ramp up its reliance on coal-fired power stations to get through the winter. The Australian benchmark for thermal coal hit a record $438.94 per metric ton (mt) on September 2, up from $433.24/mt the previous week. European countries are preparing to burn more coal this winter, and some have switched on mothballed coal plants, as the continent braces for energy shortages. Due to the ban on Russian coal, European buyers are looking for alternative supplies from countries like the U.S., South Africa, Colombia and Australia.