Prices for both coking and thermal coal have both more than doubled since the market bottomed out in 2016.

While demand for thermal coal — which is used for electricity generation – is expected to decrease over the medium term, the outlook is stronger for coking (or metallurgical) coal — which is needed to make steel.

That’s because there is no substitute for metallurgical coal (sometimes shortened to “met”coal) in the production of steel.

>> Scroll down for a list of 15 ASX-listed met coal stocks and their recent performance

About 800kg of metallurgical coal is needed to produce one tonne of steel – or about 200 tonnes for every wind turbine — according to the Office of the Chief Economist.

And with the pickup in global growth supporting steel production – and hence demand for metallurgical coal – prices remain high, increasing from $151 / tonne at the start of August to $178/ tonne on September 24.

China’s environmental and safety reforms have also seen it close local mines, resulting in increased demand for imported coal.

In the medium term, India is expected to become the world largest importer of metallurgical coal by 2020 on the back of a rapidly expanding steel sector.

>> Scroll down for a table of ASX-listed small cap metallurgical coal stocks

“Met” coal movers

There are about 15 small cap met coal stocks listed on the ASX.

Mongolia-focused Aspire Mining (ASX:AKM) has been the best performer over the past six months — rising 242 per cent to 2.4c.

Aspire is developing a huge metallurgical coal project known as Ovoot in north-western Mongolia — but first it needs a railway link between the project and Mongolia’s existing rail system.

The 250 million tonne Ovoot project would potentially produce up to 10 million tonnes a year of premium coking coal over a 21-year mine life.

Aspire shares jumped in June on news the Russian and Mongolian governments were planning to upgrade the Russian – Mongolian Ulaanbaatar Railway and lower tariffs to boost trade flow between the countries.

In the meantime, Aspire has kicked off studies into a smaller road-based operation, which will give the miner early cash flow while waiting for rail access.

In July, the share price of Jameson Resources (ASX:JAL) shot up when the company announced it was accelerating permitting and final feasibility studies at its flagship Crown Mountain project in the Canada’s western British Columbia province.

Over the past six months Jameson has enjoyed a 75 per cent share price increase to 17.5c.

The low cost, high quality Crown Mountain project will produce 1.7 million tonnes a year over 16-year mine life – and will take just over 2 years to payback the start-up costs of $US281m.

The share price of fellow Canada-based explorer Pacific American Coal (ASX:PAK), has increased more than 42 per cent in the last six months – and 100 per cent over the last 12 months – to 5.4c.

Pacific American is currently boosting resources its high quality 257 million tonne Elko coking coal project, located in an established coal mining region in British Columbia.

After the exploration program is completed this quarter, the company will look to release an updated Resource Statement in early 2019.

In 2015, when junior Stanmore Coal (AX:SMR) paid a nominal $1 for Vale’s closed Isaac Plains mine in Queensland its share price languished at 8c.

In the last year, the Stanmore share price has jumped 127 per cent – 22 per cent in the last six months – to recent highs of 87c.

In the last financial year the miner reported record revenues of $208.1 million — up 51 per cent from 2017 – and a gross profit of $52.3 million.

At the end of the 2018 financial year, it was debt free, paying dividends, and “well on-track for a 50 per cent increase in production over the next year”, the company said.

Here’s a list of 15 ASX-listed metallurgical or coking  coal stocks and their recent performance:

ASX code Company Metallurgical coal producer 6-month price change 12-month price changfe Price Sep 28 (intraday) Market Cap
AKM ASPIRE MINING Yes - Mongolia 2.42857142857 0.411764705882 0.024 60.0M
TER TERRACOM Yes - Mongolia 2.3488372093 1.66666666667 0.72 258.5M
JAL JAMESON RESOURCE Yes - Canada 0.75 0.666666666667 0.175 46.2M
PAK PACIFIC AMERICAN Yes - Canada 0.421052631579 1 0.054 9.1M
SMR STANMORE COAL LT Yes - QLD 0.223776223776 1.27272727273 0.875 216.5M
TIG TIGERS REALM COA Yes - Russia 0.0217391304348 -0.06 0.047 84.2M
AHQ ALLEGIANCE COAL Yes - Canada 0.0185185185185 0.527777777778 0.055 29.1M
NAE NEW AGE EXPLORAT Yes - UK 0 -0.111111111111 0.008 5.7M
MRV MORETON RESOURCE Yes - NSW 0 -0.272727272727 0.008 24.8M
LNY LANEWAY RESOURCE Yes - NSW 0 -0.25 0.003 10.6M
BCB BOWEN COKING COAL (listed Oct 2017) Yes - QLD 0 -0.304347826087 0.016 8.5M
CKA COKAL Yes - Indonesia, Tanzania -0.05 -0.5 0.038 27.4M
WLC WOLLONGONG COAL Yes - NSW -0.25 0 0.006 56.2M
PDZ PRAIRIE MINING L Yes - Poland -0.432748538012 -0.15652173913 0.485 103.0M
MCM MC MINING Yes - South Africa -0.521126760563 -0.564102564103 0.34 47.9M
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