Coal prices hit US$116.44 a ton at Austrialia’s Newcastle port, a record high for Asia Bloomberg reported. Power-station coal prices in Newcastle, considered a benchmark for the region, rose 25% to reach the new high. The price of coal rose 73% in 2007. The high price has been attributed to a coal shortage due to severe winter weather in China, which has caused transportation disruptions. As a result, China will not export any coal in March. Additionally, Anglo American closed its South African coal mines last month and several major miners in Australia have delayed deliveries because of flooded mining pits. Annual negotiations between producers and buyers on contract prices will begin April 1.