GERMAN STEELMAKERS PLAN TO IMPORT BIG CHUNK OF COAL SUPPLIES BY 2000

GERMAN STEELMAKERS PLAN TO IMPORT BIG CHUNK OF COAL SUPPLIES BY 2000

German steelmakers will import a large volume of their coal supplies by the end of the decade because of uncertainties about the government's energy policies.

German steel firms are obliged to source most of their supplies from domestic mines with government subsidies bridging the gap with world market prices.But after the year 2000, a large amount of the 14 million tons of coal, which steel mills currently buy from Ruhrkohle, the German coal company, will be imported through the Port of Rotterdam, said Ruprecht Vondran, chairman of the German Steel Federation.

The German government subsidizes each ton of domestic coal to the tune of 200 deutsche marks ($153) per metric ton or more than three times the spot price in Antwerp and Rotterdam.

The German government is committed to reducing the subsidy programs, but there is uncertainty over its willingness to countenance a large-scale shutdown of the country's coal mining industry.

Plans by German firms to build import terminals suggest preparations for import levels of more than 10 million tons a year.

A consortium of Thyssen, Mannesmann and Krupp, Germany's leading steelmakers, is building a 10 million-ton annual capacity coal terminal in Rotterdam and other firms plan to import their coal through Amsterdam and north German ports.