* Expects mine closures worldwide to shore up coal prices
* Underlying net loss of A$28.4 mln beats broker forecasts
(Adds managing director comments, details)
SYDNEY Aug 27 Coal prices may have hit bottom
as a wave of mine closures ease a global supply glut,
Australia's Whitehaven Coal Ltd said on Wednesday after
reporting a second consecutive annual loss.
More than 20 million tonnes of annual metallurgical coal
production has been closed over the past few months worldwide,
Whitehaven Managing Director Paul Flynn said, while thermal coal
output was also falling.
"With mine closures announced around the world, the outlook
for prices should improve gradually over the rest of this year,"
Flynn told a briefing.
World trade in metallurgical coal, used in steel mills, is
estimated at 300 million tonnes in 2014, according to
Australia's official commodities forecaster, but prices have
been mired at five-year lows due to global oversupply.
China's Datong Coal Mine Group said this week it would cut
thermal coal production and sales by 10 million tonnes in the
second half, following similar announcements by China National
Coal Group and Shenhua Group last month.
Whitehaven reported a net loss of A$28.4 million ($26.5
million) before one-off items in fiscal 2014 from a A$67.2
million loss the previous year, slightly ahead of market
But while others are shutting, Whitehaven is expanding after
starting mining last week at its Maules Creek colliery in the
coal-rich Gunnedah Basin of Australia.
At full output it will double the company's coal production
and make it Australia's largest independent producer in a sector
dominated by multi-nationals such as BHP Billiton
, AngloAmerican, Glencore and Peabody
Flynn said Whitehaven was "very positive about the longer
term outlook for coal".
Talks were also underway to potentially sell of up to 30
percent of its still undeveloped Vickery mine in Australia to
parties that would also buy the mine's coal.
Separately, private equity group American Metals and Coal
International and two of its principals, Hans Mende and Fritz
Kundrun, bought an extra 6.2 percent stake in Whitehaven held by
another equity firm First Reserve Corp, taking their combined
interest to 14.8 percent.
Flynn said he "welcomed" the move as an endorsement of
Whitehaven's growth potential.
Whitehaven stock closed down 1.3 percent at A$1.89.5 against
modest gains in the S&P/ASX200.
(1 US dollar = 1.0734 Australian dollar)
(Reporting by Jane Wardell, James Regan and Sonali Paul;
Editing by Richard Pullin)