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Exxaro's profits jump

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World Coal,

Exxaro has reported a rise in annual profits, due to a surge in coal prices. The company had expected the market to continue to strengthen in 2017. Headline earnings per share jumped to 1302 South African cents last year from 457 cents in 2015.

Exxaro also recently announced it was selling its 44% stake in US-listed inorganic minerals and chemicals firm, Tronox, worth nearly $900 million.

"Supportive market conditions are expected in 2017 for most of Exxaro's chosen coal market segments compared to 2016, both domestically and internationally," Chief Executive, Mxolisi Mgojo, said.

After half a decade of decline, thermal coal prices have risen by two thirds since the beginning of last year, driven by a sharp cut in Chinese production and strong demand.

Exxaro produces thermal, semi-soft coking and metallurgical coal for export and for domestic consumption with some of its mines tied to power stations owned by national power utility Eskom. A gross final cash dividend of 410 cents was declared, up from the 85 cents per share paid out last year. Shares in Exxaro were down 1.45% at 112,235 rand by 1032 GMT.

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