SYDNEY Jan 23 Australia's Whitehaven Coal Ltd
says it expects to see a modest drop in prices for its
metallurgical coal sales in the current quarter on subdued
demand from Asian steelmakers.
The company, which posted a 52 percent rise in December
quarter coal sales owing to strong production growth at its
Narrabri colliery, forecast an average sales price of $101 per
tonne (fob) for its metallurgical coal, down from $103 in the
Recent metallurgical coal price settlements by major coal
miners showed a fall in the price of all metallurgical coal
types for the first quarter of 2014, underscoring a weak demand
The hard coking coal price was settled at $143 per tonne,
with low volatile PCI and semi-soft coking coal benchmark prices
settled at $116 per tonne and $103.50 per tonne, respectively.
"North Asian steelmakers maximised their hot metal
production in the December quarter, leading to increased use of
low volatile PCI rather than semi-soft coking coal," the company
In thermal coal, used for power generation, Whitehaven said
it sees the market "relatively well supplied for 2014", with
pricing guided by term negotiations set to begin in February or
March and covering the April 1, 2014-March 31 2015 trading year.
Morgan Stanley in a report on Thursday said it believes
thermal coal prices have passed their cyclical low, but did not
expect a strong recovery for at least another year.
Whitehaven's share price has suffered from a weak outlook
for coal and a lengthy court battle in Australia that clouded
development of a major growth project.
Whitehaven shares closed at A$88 on Wednesday, up 27 percent
from a low point in November but off sharply from its 12-month
high of A562.
Whitehaven last month won a court fight against
environmentalists who sought to overturn the Australian
government's approval of the A$767 million Maules Creek mine,
designed to yield 13 million tonnes a year.
Work remained on schedule with sales of thermal and
metallurgical coal set for the first quarter of 2015, the
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin)