* Metallurgical coal output cuts should support price
* Thermal coal seen in oversupply in second half of 2014
* Maules Creek on track to start exporting in March 2015
(Adds annual output, price outlook)
MELBOURNE, July 15 Australia's Whitehaven Coal
Ltd expects a slight improvement in metallurgical coal
prices in late 2014 as producers cut supply, while it expects
thermal coal markets to remain oversupplied over the next six
Whitehaven, which is on track to start exporting coal from
its long-delayed Maules Creek mine in March 2015, said about 19
million tonnes a year of metallurgical coal output had been cut
so far and further cuts were likely in the near term.
"This should lead to a modest recovery in prices towards the
end of this calendar year," the company said in its quarterly
production report on Tuesday.
Whitehaven expects prices for its metallurgical coal in the
September quarter to be in the range of $91-$92 per tonne, down
from $93.63 a tonne in the June quarter.
While metallurgical coal supplies have been cut, exports of
thermal coal, used in power stations, from Indonesia, Australia
and Colombia rose in the first half of the year, outpacing
demand growth and driving thermal coal prices down.
"While demand continues to grow, albeit at a lower rate than
in recent years, a state of oversupply is expected over the next
six months," Whitehaven said.
The company produced 8.2 million tonnes of saleable coal in
the year to June, representing its share of output from the
mines it operates, up 23 percent from a year earlier as the
Narrabri mine ramped up. Sales grew 18 percent to 8.7 million
The A$767 million ($720 million) Maules Creek mine is
expected to initially produce 6 million tonnes a year of thermal
and metallurgical coal, rising over three years to 13 million
tonnes a year.
($1 = 1.0645 Australian Dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Paul Tait and Stephen