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Australia’s Coronado Global Resources flagged heightened requests for metallurgical coal from existing and new European customers ahead of a European Union (EU) ban on Russian coal imports in August.

European and Asian coal importers are expected to join the scramble for alternative sources of the fuel as the EU sanction on Russia looms, analysts and company officials said earlier this month.

Coronado said it expects met coal demand to remain positive in 2022, though improved supply from Australia and Mongolia should balance the market.

It noted, however, that Covid-19 lockdowns in China have disrupted logistics along the steel value chain and hit steel and met coal demand in the short term.

Fellow Australian producers Whitehaven Coal and New Hope Corp had said earlier that they were also approached by prospective customers but that their priority was to serve existing customers.

Coal prices have surged amid the conflict in Ukraine, and while they are lower than their highs in mid-March, Coronado expects them to remain supported by strong demand as well as trade constraints with respect to China and Russia.

“Despite the ongoing uncertainty and tight supply, met coal prices have fallen from their mid-March highs but have remained at levels more than double historical averages,” Coronado said.

The company said its March-quarter revenue rose 22.3% from the December quarter to a record $947 million.