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Message: Anglo American to double coking coal output

Anglo American to double coking coal output

posted on Sep 24, 2009 07:26PM


Anglo American to double coal output

Matt Chambers| September 25, 2009

Article from: The Australian

PREDICTINGrecent Chinese coking coal import demand is here to stay, AngloAmerican wants to double its global coking coal production by boostingoutput from its Queensland mines.

The mininggiant, which produces most of its 15 million tonnes a year of cokingcoal from Australia, said it wanted to increase production to 30million tonnes a year by 2018.

Expanded production beyond 2011 is yet to be sanctioned, but thecompany is targeting an average 12 per cent annual increase in outputeach year until then, Anglo Coal boss and former Gold Fields chiefexecutive Ian Cockerill said in a presentation in London.

"Anglo's future seaborne metallurgical (coking) coal growth isfocused on consolidating around its existing clusters in thehighest-quality metallurgical coal areas of Queensland's Bowen Basin,"he said. Australia is the world's biggest exporter of coking coal,mostly from mines in the Bowen Basin of eastern Queensland, which hasthe world's lowest production cost.

Demand for coking coal, which is used to make steel, slumped latelast year with the global financial crisis. But a surprise boost indemand this year from China, where many domestic mines were closed forcost, environmental and safety reasons, saved Australian miners fromanother round of production cuts.

Demand from China, which had been a net exporter, was treatedcautiously at first. But recently, coking coal exporters, including theworld's biggest, BHP Billiton, have become more confident the nation'simports can be sustained.

Mr Cockerill said China's demand for seaborne coal was expected togrow at a rate of about 6 per cent a year over the next decade. Most ofAnglo's growth will come from previously flagged, but not approved,projects at Moranbah South and Grosvenor, west of Mackay, which havethe potential to produce a combined 10 million tonnes a year of cokingcoal. The remaining 5 million tonnes of capacity would probably comefrom expansions at its CapCoal and Foxleigh mines, which are furthersouth and can now produce a combined 10 million tonnes of coal a year.

China's imports of Australian coking coal dropped 29 per cent inAugust, according to Chinese customs data reported this week by DowJones Newswires.

Despite the fall, however, it was the third-highest month forAustralian imports this year and nine times higher than a year earlier.

The steelmaking giant imported 2.39 million tonnes of Australiancoking coal last month, down from record rates of about 3.2 milliontonnes in June and July. The drop indicates that some of thehigher-cost Chinese coking coalmines are starting to increaseproduction, but analysts do not expect domestic production there to beable to flood the market.

"China's production is increasing, but so is demand," Citi commodities analyst Alan Heap said this week.

Citi raised its coking coal price forecast for the 2010 Japanese financial year from $US140 a tonne to $US200.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,26120741-643,00.html

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