Indonesian coal miners are holding exploratory talks with buyers seeking alternatives to Russian coal, although some other countries may be better placed to supply the European market, a senior official of an industry association said on March 9, as reported by Reuters. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted buyers of Russian coal and gas to seek alternative fuel sources and has boosted the Indonesian coal benchmark price for March to $203.69 per metric ton (mt), the second-highest monthly price on record.

Indonesian Coal Miners Association executive director, Hendra Sinadia, said miners were currently focused on recovering production and meeting existing contracts after an unexpected export ban brought in by Jakarta in January.

Indonesia has since resumed exports, but the government has tightened mandatory domestic sales rules and will only allow exports for miners meeting requirements.

Indonesia has set a target of 663 million mt of coal production this year and potential exports of 497 million mt, director of mineral and coal programs at Indonesia’s energy ministry, Sunindyo Suryo Herdadi, said recently.

“Another challenge is also the weather and competitiveness of our freight in order to serve the Atlantic market,” Hendra said. “Because we believe Colombia and South Africa are in the better position to serve the market in Europe should they look for substitutes from Russia.”

Indonesia, the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter, mainly ships to buyers in China, India, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.