Bloomberg reported that Japanese steel giant Nippon Steel is prepared to make more investments in coal mines after the energy source surged in price, as Japan’s biggest steelmaker looks at ways to stabilize the supply of one of its key raw materials. Nippon Steel’s Raw Materials Division General Manager Mr Kiichi Yamada said “It’s a dynamic that’s led Nippon Steel to study whether investing further in coal projects makes sense, particularly as miners come under pressure to divest those assets because of fears over global warming.Mr Yamada didn’t give any details on possible new investments.Mr Yamada expects the market for coking coal to remain tight. He said “Prices are more than twice where they were a year ago, and given the limited opportunities to expand supply, it’s structurally difficult for coking coal prices to fall.”Mr Yamada also said “Five years ago, the company switched to using price assessments as the basis for procuring supply because the spot market had grown too volatile. But China’s ban on imports of Australian coal in 2020 has significantly cut the number of deals struck and left pricing less liquid. It may mean that prices don’t fairly reflect the supply-demand balance. Nippon Steel has begun discussing the problem with its suppliers. Resolving the issue will involve either enhancing the credibility of index-linked pricing or finding an alternative.”Nippon Steel currently has minority stakes in six coking coal assets, mostly in Australia, including the Moranbah North project led by Anglo American Plc with production capacity of 15 million tonnes a year. According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, Japanese trading firm Mitsui & Co has begun seeking buyers for its 20% stake in a joint venture that operates coking coal mines in Queensland.