BHP Billiton reached a quarterly pricing agreement with the Japanese for coking coal. Press reports from the Pacific Rim region say that BHP struck a deal with JFE Holdings to supply an unknown amount of coking coal for $200/metric ton (mt). A price increase of 55% over the 2008-09 contract price of $129/mt and close to the prevailing spot rate of US$220/mt. Terms of the agreement are unclear, but it does mark the first time a Japanese steelmaker has been willing to depart from the annual contract system, to one that more closely tracks the spot market. In press statement, BHP said it had reached terms for a significant portion of its hard coking coal volumes for 2010, based on a structural change to shorter term market based pricing for the contract period. The company said it had reached an agreement with a range of customers throughout Europe, China, India and Japan. These settlements, according to the company, reflect its commitment to achieving market clearing prices over time across all its bulk commodities.

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