* Coking coal hits highest in six sessions
* Anglo American suspends ops at Australian mine
* Coke extends gains also due to supply worries
By Enrico Dela Cruz
MANILA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Coking coal futures in China rose to their highest in six sessions in early trade on Thursday, supported by worries over supply of the steel-making raw material after a coal mine accident in Australia.
Anglo American said on Thursday it has suspended operations at its Moranbah North coking coal mine in Australia after one worker died and several were injured on Wednesday.
The most traded coking coal contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose as much as 2.9 percent to 1,296 yuan ($192.79) a tonne, its highest since hitting an intraday high of 1,299 yuan on Feb. 13.
The mine in northern Queensland state produced about 7.68 million tonnes of coking coal last year, according to AME Group.
“There could be some minor impact on their (Anglo-American) supply,” said analyst Li Wang at CRU Group in Beijing.
Coke futures rose for a fourth day, up as much as 2.4 percent to 2,141 yuan a tonne, the highest in eight sessions, also due to concerns over tight supply, particularly from China’s coal mining hub Shanxi province.
Shanxi Coking Co Ltd, a major producer, expects to trim coke output by around 220,000 tonnes due to an environmental restriction issued by the local government, effective from Feb. 16 to Mar. 31.
The most traded Dalian iron ore contract edged down 0.5 percent to 618 yuan a tonne.
Expectations of a tightening market remains a key theme for iron ore amid a spate of supply disruptions, but it won’t be felt in the short term, said analyst Hui Heng Tan at Marex Spectron.
“Iron ore arrivals into China are expected to increase in the coming 1-2 weeks. With mills in destocking mode, we also (expect) an increase in spot supplies. These are both price negative developments,” Tan said.
Spot iron ore for delivery to China SH-CCN-IRNOR62 fell almost 1 percent to $88.30 a tonne on Wednesday, according to SteelHome consultancy.
The most active rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as much as almost 2 percent to 3,690 yuan a tonne. Hot rolled coil gained as much as 1.8 percent to also hit 3,690 yuan.
Marex Spectron expects any restocking by Chinese steel mills in China to be subdued in the short term considering their pressured margins, tight credit conditions, and sintering cuts as pollution levels continue to worsen.
“Steel margins remain under pressure as the spike in iron ore prices bit into overall margins,” Tan said. “With margins under pressure, steel rates continue to trend lower.”
($1 = 6.7224 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Richard Pullin