Investors in ASX coal stocks appear wary after climate protesters' floating blockade of the Port of Newcastle over the weekend.
Here's how these top three coal shares are tracking in early trading on Monday morning:
- Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) shares are down 0.41%
- Yancoal Australia Ltd (ASX: YAL) shares are down 0.4%
- New Hope Corp Ltd (ASX: NHC) shares are down 0.56%
For some context, the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) is up 0.13% at this same time.
So, what the heck has been happening in Newcastle?
ASX coal stocks unfazed by climate protests
Hundreds of kayakers, and at least one person on an inflatable unicorn, shuttered operations at the Port of Newcastle over the weekend.
The world's largest coal port ships some 150 million tonnes of coal annually and serves as a vital export hub for ASX coal stocks.
Climate activists had been granted permission for a 30-hour protest. With support from the Greens, they're demanding an end to new coal projects in Australia. And in what would come as a blow for shareholders in ASX coal stocks, they'd like the federal government to impose hefty new taxes on export profits.
When the 30-hour window expired yesterday, more than 100 protesters remained in the floating blockade. They were eventually arrested without incident.
Greens leader Adam Bandt lauded the blockaders.
"They're fighting to stop more floods and bushfires in this country," he said (quoted by The Australian Financial Review).
"In the middle of the climate crisis, Labor is making the problem worse by opening more coal and gas mines," he added.
New South Wales Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee had a decidedly different take. He noted that exports from the Port of Newcastle represent less than 2% of the world's annual coal consumption.
According to Galilee:
Disrupting coal exports through the Port of Newcastle will have no impact on global coal demand or supply. However, it will potentially cause significant damage to New South Wales.
Coal is a major contributor to the New South Wales economy. Coal exports represent New South Wales most valuable exports by far and are worth more than $70 billion nationally.
How have these coal miners performed longer-term?
After delivering some stellar gains in 2022 amid soaring coal prices, all three ASX coal stocks are in the red for 2023.
Year to date the Yancoal share price is down 13%, the New Hope share price is down 7%, and the Whitehaven share price is down 17%.
Long-term shareholders are still well in the green, however. Over the past five years, the Yancoal share price is up 40%, the New Hope share price is up 61%, and the Whitehaven share price is up 71%.