JAKARTA, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Record high coal prices could still rise almost 50 percent to as much as $150 a tonne due to a supply squeeze, a spokesman at Indonesia’s largest coal miner, PT Bumi Resources Tbk (BUMI.JK), said on Tuesday.
The sharp rise in coal prices could boost Bumi’s revenue significantly as it expects at least a 25 percent rise in its 2008 average coal prices from last year, Dileep Srivastava, Bumi’s senior vice president of investor relations, told reporters.
He did not elaborate on the average 2007 price, but the company has reported its average coal price in the first nine months last year was $43 a tonne.
“Currently the production from China, India, Australia, and South Africa is limited. Therefore coal prices can increase to around $125-150 a tonne,” Srivastava said.
Thermal coal prices at Australia’s Newcastle port, a benchmark for Asian coal prices, jumped to a record high of $102 a tonne this week, as supply woes in China and South Africa significantly worsened the Asian supply crunch.
Indonesia is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter. Analysts said coal prices had rocketed in a combination of China’s temporary export halt, South Africa’s power shortage and force majeure declarations issued by Australian coal producers due to floods.
Srivastava also said Bumi, controlled by the family of Indonesia’s chief social welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie, is aiming to produce 65 million tonnes of coal this year and gradually boost output to 100 million by 2010.
Bumi, which has a market capitalisation of $13.5 billion, saw its share price rise 1.54 percent late on Tuesday to 6,600 rupiah ($0.708), after hitting an intraday high of 6,900 rupiah earlier. ($1 = 9,316 rupiah) (Reporting by Nury Sybli, editing by Lincoln Feast)