Whitehaven Coal is hoping to cash in on the recent spike in metallurgical coal prices as disruptions from Cyclone Debbie affect global supplies.
The company has an optimistic outlook despite a four per cent drop in its third quarter production, due to maintenance work at its Narrabri mine in NSW.
The east coast miner expects coal prices to remain high for several months, and said it is likely to boost metallurgical coal sales in the last quarter of the financial following increased enquiries for the steel making ingredient.
Coal prices have soared since Debbie hit Queensland in late March, and caused severe flooding and landslides that forced the closure of key ports, railways and mines.
Five major miners have declared ‘force majeure’ for their coal deliveries from the region, and analysts have estimated a loss of roughly 15 million tonnes of coal shipments from the world’s seaborne coking coal supplies.
“This loss of exports is likely to be positive for coal prices until normal production and shipments resume and any contract delivery shortfall recovered, which could take some months,” Whitehaven said on Thursday.
The company operates mines in NSW and has not been impacted by the natural disaster.
Whitehaven still expects to achieve full year production of 21 to 22 million tonnes, despite lower production during the quarter at the Narrabri mine.
The miner realised an average price of $US119 per tonne for metallurgical coal during the quarter, up from $US104 a tonne in the preceding three months.
For thermal coal, its main export, the average realised price was $US83 per tonne, compared to $US92 in the previous three months.
Whitehaven shares dropped 22 cents, or 6.9 per cent, to $2.98.