Exclusive interview with Juan Manuel Sanchez Vergara, CEO of C.I. Carbocoque
Latin America is fast becoming a significant player in the met coke, coal and steel industry supply chain, with Colombia in particular at the forefront of this. To get deeper insights into this exciting market, we spoke to Juan Manuel Sanchez Vergara, CEO of C.I. Carbocoque in Colombia.
Q. You will be part of the ‘What is in the Pipeline?’ Session on Day 2 – could you please give us a quick sneak peak of what you will be sharing?
I will explain how the coke industry has been consolidating in Colombia during the last 10 years. I will also describe how Colombian coke exporters have developed to be considered reliable long-term suppliers through great and resilient effort, thus being able to compete with exporters in China, Poland, and Russia, among others.
Q. How do you see the coke industry in Latin America vs the demands in Europe?
Colombia is the only Latin American country with metallurgical coal deposits. Additionally, it is the only one with significant reserves in high, mid and low volatile coals in this area. This variety in terms of supply gives Colombia the potential to stand as a relevant player in the international coal and coke market. Our companies are survivors of the last market crisis. Because of this, we have developed the ability to react to the sudden changes that may happen in the market. During 2018, market figures have shown Colombia as the third global coke exporter, behind China and Poland.
Regarding market demand; since 2017, consumption needs have increased in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Brazil. In Europe, countries have maintained the same levels of demand with the exception of Turkey, where demand has grown during the last 4 years.
Q. What do you see as the most significant shifts in coal, coke and steel in the short-and mid-terms?
In terms of coal, we can expect a shortage in high-quality supply during the coming years as a result of the mines that were closed during the last crisis. Because of this, consumers will need to adopt new technologies that will allow them to use lower quality coals. In terms of coke, it is likely that buyers will begin using long-term agreements instead of spot contracts in order to secure the services of quality suppliers. This potential shift will call for steel industry suppliers to assure competitive and reliable sources of supply.
Q. How the 4.0 industry and smart solutions could transform the sector positively?
The main exporting companies in Colombia are establishing integrated projects in which they control the entire process starting from the extraction of coal, continuing through the coal washing process and production of coke, and ending in the transportation to ports. Additionally, exporting companies are constantly innovating in order to improve the sustainability of the Colombian coal and coke industry.
In terms of coke batteries and washing plants, the industry counts with cutting-edge technologies; almost all the main companies in Colombia have digital platforms with online-based information data.